Nobel Son

2008

Nobel Son

Critics Consensus

Despite the best efforts of a strong cast, Nobel Son is over-plotted and self-consciously odd.

25%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 65

44%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,245
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Movie Info

A young man's moment of triumph is spoiled when he gets kidnapped before he can impress his father in this black comedy. Eli Michaelson (Alan Rickman), a well-respected scientist, has learned that he's won the Nobel Prize in chemistry, which is a mixed blessing for his friends and family; while Eli's ego is a bit strong under the best of circumstances, this affirmation of his talent and intelligence has made him insufferable. Eli's wife, Sarah (Mary Steenburgen), a talented forensic psychiatrist, is more than annoyed by Eli's fondness for extramarital affairs (and lack of concern about hiding them), while his son, Barkley (Bryan Greenberg), has spent much of his life struggling to live up to his dad's expectations, with little success. Barkley is about to receive his Ph.D, just in time for his father's prize ceremony, when he's abducted by a pair of hapless crooks. The kidnappers demand Eli's two-million-dollar Nobel honorarium in exchange for Barkley's safe return. Also starring Bill Pullman, Danny DeVito, Eliza Dushku, and Shawn Hatosy, Nobel Son received its world premiere at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Cast

Alan Rickman
as Eli Michaelson
Bill Pullman
as Max Mariner
Bryan Greenberg
as Barkley Michaelson
Mary Steenburgen
as Sarah Michaelson
Shawn Hatosy
as Thaddeus James
Eliza Dushku
as City Hall
Danny DeVito
as Gastner
Ted Danson
as Harvey Parrish
Ernie Hudson
as Lasasso
Tracey Walter
as Simon Ahrens
Kevin West
as Jaundice
View All

News & Interviews for Nobel Son

Critic Reviews for Nobel Son

All Critics (65) | Top Critics (26) | Fresh (16) | Rotten (49)

  • Is it a thriller? Is it a heist movie? Is it a comedy?

    Dec 8, 2008 | Full Review…
  • I had high hopes for Nobel Son at the halfway point, but it ultimately really completely collapses under the weight of its clever twists.

    Dec 8, 2008
  • The plot twists are mostly predicated on the characters' improbably shifting loyalties, the sort of thing you can get away with only when the people in your movie are drained of all compassion.

    Dec 5, 2008 | Full Review…
  • It's one of those films stuffed with odd characters in overblown situations. Unfortunately, you don't care about any of them.

    Dec 5, 2008 | Rating: C- | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic
  • Even if you can summon some admiration for Nobel Son's editing or snippets of clever dialogue, the movie is so relentlessly self-congratulatory, you can't help becoming thoroughly sick of it.

    Dec 5, 2008 | Rating: 1/4
  • Only when Nobel Son stops trying so hard does it have any appeal at all.

    Dec 5, 2008 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Nobel Son

  • Jun 10, 2013
    Nobel Son is a well thought black comedy with a great cast and directing. I really enjoyed the film because it offers up a good idea for a movie, and with a fine lead performance from Alan Rickman, who always is best as playing characters that are arrogant. This is a smart film with a great cast, a clever script and great directing. The plot is well structured and it is an entertaining film that is smart and funny, something that is rare to see in comedies because everyone wants the same old tiresome humor. Nobel Son is a film that will certainly appeal to viewers looking for a different type of comedy, and with a cast like this, you can be thoroughly engaged into the story, its characters and what is going on on-screen. This is one of those rare films that succeed at creating something really original and combining it with a well layered plot. I really loved the film, and it is a fine independent production due to Rickman's performance which really stands out. I wish more films like this would get a wider release because in today's comedy genre, nearly every comedy tends to recycle the same dull material, which ends up falling flat. Nobel Son has its imperfections, but it is worth seeing if you enjoy these types of Black comedies. With a great cast at hand, this is a highly entertaining film that combines serious elements with the not so serious to create one of the better films in the genre. This film is really a treat for film fans that enjoy independent productions such as this.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Sep 15, 2010
    Grad student Barkley Michaelson (Bryan Greenberg) is getting his PhD but his choice of topic doesn't sit very well with his dad, an arrogant, pompous, narcissistic college professor (Alan Rickman) who's just been awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry and who wants his son to carry on his legacy after he's gone. Boasting a troupe of talented veterans which includes Bill Pullman, Danny DeVito, Mary Steenburgen, Ted Danson, Ernie Hudson, Shawn Hatosy, and Eliza Dushku, the film takes us on a dark ride with blazingly quick twists and turns, that kept me guessing. Eliza Dushku stands out as the criminally involved seductive City Hall and Danny Devito give an outstanding performance as the neurotic neighbor still struggling with his OCD. I also enjoyed the fantastic and banging techno type music which is a major component of this film.
    Deb S Super Reviewer
  • Jul 31, 2010
    WOW!!! Great film. This one did take me by surprise. The film was well casted and the dialog is very sharp. The style of the film reminded me of the style of Smokin Aces. The film also reminded me of films like Suicide Kings and Wild Things. I definitely recommend this film.
    Sol C Super Reviewer
  • Feb 05, 2010
    In "Nobel Son," chemistry professor and Nobel Prize winner Eli Michaelson(Alan Rickman) and his wife Sarah(Mary Steenburgen) wait patiently at the gate for their flight to Stockholm. But their son Barkley(Bryan Greenberg), who is currently working on his anthropology PhD thesis on cannibalism, has not yet put in an appearance. His getting distracted explains why he is not there, spending the night and morning with City Hall(Eliza Dushku, who might have missed her calling as a slam poet). Finally returning home, Barkley is attacked by an unknown stranger(Shawn Hatosy, who is convincingly creepy). "Nobel Son" proves that no matter how hard cutting off a thumb may be, successfully pulling off an offbeat noir film is much harder. Only a few scenes really work. Of course, a serious lack of logic and character development do not help, either. It would have been much more interesting if Eli had started off as much beloved by everybody around, slowly revealing him to be a cad, which would have made it hard for Eli to grow up in the great man's shadow, creating tension in the process. Instead, the first we see of Eli is having sex with one of his students(Lindy Booth) on top of his desk which instantly establishes him as something of a lout. That just leaves us wondering what exactly his wife saw in him in the first place.
    Walter M Super Reviewer

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