Father of Invention [Blu-ray] [Import]
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Two-time Academy Award® winner Kevin Spacey gives one of the most unexpectedly funny performances of his career as Robert Axle, an arrogant infomercial mogul whose empire collapses after one of his products maims thousands of consumers. After 8 years in prison, he tries to rebuild his fortune, but must first reconnect with his estranged daughter (Camilla Belle), her man-hating roommate (Heather Graham), his boneheaded new employer (Johnny Knoxville), the ex-wife who squandered his fortune (Academy Award® nominee Virginia Madsen of Sideways), and the ruthless executive who took over his company (John Stamos). Can a man who's lost everything devise a way to get back on top? Craig Robinson (''The Office''), Michael Rosenbaum (''Smallville'') and Anna Annisimova co-star in this surprising comedy about fabrications, complications, and the situations people invent to find out who they really are.
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The cast is good, particularly Spacey (pretty much in every frame of the movie) and Heather Graham, as a woman dealing with her self-esteem issues. Spacey's daughter Claire is flatly portrayed by Camilla Belle and Craig Robinson and Virginia Madsen play cliches, but they are both talented enough to add just enough to elevate their characters above their weakly written roles.
There is a sweetness in Spacey's huckster character Robert Axle, and the movie is less about satirizing the infomercial business (how can you satirize something that is funnier than any satire of it could ever be?) than it is about the fragility of relationships. Sure, most of what is said and done in Father of Invetion is unoriginal, but that doesn't mean it won't bring a smile to your face and keep your interest for the ninety minutes it takes.
My recommendation is to wait until it gets into the budget bin and pick it up.
Would I watch again? - I don't know if I would.
*Also try - Casino Jack & Extract
But overall I can't really recommend it as good entertainment.
I do agree that "Father of Invention" didn't turn out to be as funny as the trailer led me to believe, but that is okay because while watching it I didn't get the impression they were really trying to be that funny in the first place. I would label this as a light-hearted drama, if such a thing could exist. It's not too heavy and it will not make you cry, though I did find the speech at the end touching, but it is not a comedy either.
This movie simply tells the story of Mr. Axle trying to obtain some semblance of a life after serving eight years in federal prison; originally that meant regaining wealth and power but eventually includes regaining a quality relationship with his daughter Claire. While the first few minutes of the movie shows him at his peak and some of his successful products, the movie does not address how and why Mr. Axle was found criminally and financially liable for a product that caused bodily harm to thousands of people. Mind you, in the beginning Mr. Axle states before going to prison, his self-made business was worth 1.6 BILLION (not millions!) dollars, certainly in real life the chances of a CEO billionaire going to prison for any reason is highly unlikely but especially for a defective product; I noticed in some reviews this bothered people as it was not realistic, it didn't bother me much though. I think Phoebe (Heather Graham), Claire's roommate, could've been eliminated entirely. The self-proclaimed lesbian was irritating and served no purpose and was rude to Mr. Axle for no apparent reason from the start, her actions later in the movie made no sense - I won't detail it as not to spoil it for those who have yet seen the film. As a fan of both "Hot tub time machine" movies, I enjoyed seeing Craig Robinson play the role of Jerry, Mr. Axle's ex-wife's current husband. Of course all of his scenes were funny and his singing during the credits were a delight, he must have it written in his contract that he has to sing at least once in his movies! I have yet to see a movie of his where he does not sing or one I did not like. I can't believe they wasted the time to credit John Stamos for his role of Steven, a fellow guru who backstabs Mr. Axle, he is seen for maybe all of five seconds. Of course, Kevin Spacey as Mr. Axle was well played, I have yet to see a movie of his I didn't like. This is also the first movie I've seen with Johnny Knoxville where he was not vulgar, stupid, or just plain weird (ie."Small Apartments" which I couldn't even finish).
Overall, this movie is not groundbreaking in the least, but it is a decent film about a man who was once materialistic and obsessed with working figuring out more about himself and being a good role-model for his daughter. Not necessarily laugh out loud funny but interesting nonetheless.
Side note: the idea of mace/camera combo does seem useful!! But hey, I'll admit that I've been known to watch an infomercial or two. :=)