Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Gosh darn, I’ve been Cocktailed yet again. I hate that. I know I’ve mentioned it before but I’m an older guy now and have the right to repeat myself over and over again, but years ago we saw ‘Cocktail’, a completely mediocre Tom Cruise movie that had a final scene in it, something Brian Flannigan’s uncle said, that had us leaving the theater laughing. Thus the people who saw us leave the theater mistakenly thought the movie was funny. Or good. Not true. Today we have ‘Father of Invention’, a completely mediocre, paint by the numbers Kevin Spacey joint that had an ending credits scene that was… priceless. Again, folks will think we were watching a really funny movie. Not true. Plus, to get the full impact of this final sequence, you kind of have to watch the whole movie to understand how completely priceless this one scene was, a ‘duet’ between actors Craig Robinson and Virginia Madsen. Virginia… as a singer… is one hell of an actress.

Robert Axle (Spacey) is the realities version of Ron Popeil, a TV pitchman who hawks his ‘fabrications’ to the masses. A fabrication, as I have been enlightened, is two great tastes that taste great together just like a Resee’s Peanut Butter Cup. Or a light and a dinosaur. Or a still camera and pepper spray. Unfortunately Robert’s last fabrication netted him in ten years in a federal pen due to some negligent engineering.

Now back into the world, Robert needs to start all over again. First thing he needs to do, after dealing with his probation officer, is to track down his daughter and try to make things right with her, but alas Claire (Camilla Belle) isn’t too terribly fond of her old man right now and has even changed her last name considering her previous last name is associated with the maiming of innocent individuals. When was the last time you met somebody named Mengele? I bet it’s been a while. Eventually Claire relents and moves her old man into her apartment with her roommates Donna the Angel (Anna Anissimova) and Phoebe the Lesbian (Heather Graham) which results in all kinds of wacky hijinks. There’s also Roberts relationship with his pop star wannabe ex-wife Lorraine (Madsen) and her new husband Jerry (Robinson) which introduces even more heart tugging theoretical hilarity, and lest we forget to mention Robert’s uptight boss at his Probation ordered job at Family Mart, Troy (Johnny Knoxville), which will produce… you guessed it… theoretical wacky hijinks.

But Robert needs to get back on top, somehow, someway. What he needs is that one idea to set him off again, not that anybody’s going to invest in a convicted felon, but if Robert does get that one idea, if he does make it to the top again, we just hope he doesn’t make those same mistakes that he made the last time around. We’re not talking about maiming people, though that is bad and all, but we’re talking about the love of his baby girl. That’s what we’re talking about, not that anybody’s going to care.

‘Father of Invention’ directed by Trent Cooper wasn’t… you know… a terrible movie. It really wasn’t no matter what anybody else wants to tell you, it’s just amazingly unremarkable is all. Early on is actually kind of funny, but that was like in the first ten minutes of the movie, because what follows are these long lulls of comedy which simply didn’t happen. The effort was certainly there, but it just wasn’t working like it should have. I have a couple of cues to look out for which alert me that a comedy might be in trouble. One would be fart jokes as I have personally put a 2 fart cap on fart jokes in a movie, for anymore will definitely spell trouble, and the other is getting kicked in the nads. I’ve capped that at zero because at no time ever is getting kicked in the nuts funny. No fart jokes in ‘Father of Invention’, thank goodness, but we did have two foot in the nuts jokes. They weren’t funny. They almost never are. We’re officially in trouble.

The story supporting our unremarkable film is unremarkable as well, following the basic RomCom formula where the boy struggles to win the girl, loses the girl then has to look deep to get the girl back, it’s just father and daughter this time around as opposed to boyfriend and girlfriend. But the cast, and Cooper did round up a rock solid cast for his movie, was game for the cause. Kevin Spacey plays this type of role so often that we’re beginning think this must be close to what he’s like in real life, Camilla Belle is tall and pretty, Anna Anissimova is tall and pretty, Heather Graham is tall and pretty and ageless, John Stamos is in this movie and he STILL has the best hair in the business, and Madsen and Robinson should consider taking their musical revue on the road.

Like we said, ‘Father of Invention’ isn’t really all that bad. In fact it’s completely harmless entertainment and hating on it is almost mean. It’s is just unremarkable entertainment and would probably be right at home on the Hallmark Channel were it not for the somewhat remarkable cast in this unremarkable comedy.

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