“All things are intrinsically connected, no matter how different they may appear. Hi. You know me — Robert Axle. As a fabricator, I bring existing, often different, items together, maximizing their atomic and molecular potential. Making ordinary inventions infinitely more prolific.”
Kevin Spacey has been quite prolific himself in the last couple of years. It seems no matter where I go these days, I see him in another movie I’m reviewing. In just the last 6 months I’ve seen him in Horrible Bosses, Margin Call, Casino Jack and now Father Of Invention. In fact just since 2009 he’s appeared in 10 films. One might expect the energy to be a bit sapped in that much production. But he continues to provide wonderful performances. At times he carries the entire burden on his own shoulders and makes a moderately average film just a little bit better. And while there is a pretty good supporting cast here, that’s exactly what happens in Father Of Invention.
Robert Axle (Spacey) is a fabricator, and he sells these fabrications on infomercials. He built the business into a billion-dollar empire until one of his products that combined an exercise machine and a television remote control led to a lot of folks losing one of their fingers. He was sentenced to ten years in prison for depraved indifference to human life. Or as he describes it, because “People are too lazy to do sit-ups, so they stick their fingers in places they shouldn’t have stuck their fingers.”
Eight years later and he’s getting out early for good behavior. He’s lost his fortune, so he needs a place to stay. He finds his ex-wife (Madsen) has squandered her half of the money and is now remarried to a forest ranger named Jerry King (Robinson) who is actually a huge fan of Axle’s. Next stop is his daughter. Claire (Belle) has changed her last name to avoid being associated with his high-profile infamy. She does take pity on him and allows him to stay for 30 days. It doesn’t sit well with her angry lesbian roommate Fibbi (Graham) who berates him at every chance. Her other roommate Donna (Anissimova) sticks up for Axle. He believes he’s just one big idea from getting back on top. He gets one, but can he avoid making the mistakes that cost him his family the last time? Then there is his infamy that makes it impossible to find a backer. It appears that everywhere he goes his name is poison, and he runs into more than a few folks with missing fingers along the way. He uses his Family Mart manager’s name, Troy Coangelo (Knoxville) to open doors, but will that be enough to get him back on top again?
The idea is a rather silly one, but it works for the most part. Director Trent Cooper is smart enough to not let the whole thing get too serious. He knows his plot is pretty much a gimmick and allows the actors to bring the characters to life. Of course, no one is better than Kevin Spacey in this situation, and we do end up feeling a bit for Axle even though he can’t seem to quite get the hang of the straight and narrow. Camilla Belle shares some nice chemistry with Spacey, and Cooper does get a lot of emotional mileage out of the father-daughter dynamic. Heather Graham is a little against type here and has her moments. Some of the best material comes from Craig Robinson as Jerry King. The man is terribly underused and adds a ton of laughs every moment he is on the screen. The rest of the cast remains solid. That’s the true strength of the film. You’ll find some quirky and entertaining performances here all around.
Father Of Invention is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.40:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec at an average 25 mbps. The image is a very natural one. You won’t find any outstanding visuals, because the focus here is on the characters. Here colors maintain a very realistic world in contrast to the shiny, colorful world portrayed in the infomercials. Black levels are fine, and you’ll get lost enough in the presentation that you really won’t be thinking much about it.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 has that same natural feel. It’s a dialog picture, and that’s what is represented here. No aggressive surrounds to be found. It’s both simple and effective.
Making Of… (14:05) SD Cast and crew offer up the usual descriptive narrations.
In the end, we’re talking about a harmless enough film. It won’t take anyone by storm, and it’s certainly not destined to be a classic. It’s the perfect rental on a rainy or cold weekend. It’ll provide some cozy and comfortable entertainment. Remember, it’s not a movie, “it’s a fabrication”.