The parable of the Prodigal Son reworked as a parable for Corporate America.
Luke Crisp has always revered his father, Carl, self-made multi-millionaire founder and CEO of Crisp’s Copy Centers, a burgeoning chain of print shops headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz. Carl is grooming Luke to take over the company, a goal that Luke has worked toward since managing several Crisp’s locations as a teen. An MBA from the Wharton School, Carl decides, is just the polish his son needs. Luke reluctantly agrees. Once at Wharton, Luke falls in with a clique of East Coast sophisticates, led by Sean, dissolute son of a hedgie. Carl and Luke lose touch, as Luke embraces Sean’s hard-drinking, free-spending lifestyle. After graduation, Sean suggests a whirlwind tour of Europe, where only the most expensive hotels, restaurants and entertainments will do. Almost immediately, Sean, pleading momentary illiquidity, persuades Luke to tap into his million-dollar trust fund. When he’s forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to ransom Sean from casino thugs, Luke tries to escape, but one last Sean-fueled spending spree in Vegas instantly bankrupts Luke. Betrayed by friends and lovers and convinced that his father has disowned him, Luke joins the growing contingent of Las Vegas homeless people, until robbers take everything but his boxers. A passerby, Carlos, rescues Luke, providing him with a job and room and board at a nursing home. As Luke regains his self-respect doing menial chores, he takes a second job at the Vegas Crisp’s, wowing supervisors with his expertise in all things Xerox. Without revealing his family connections, Luke moves up at the store and wins the trust of a disgruntled colleague, Rachael. When, however, Crisp’s Corporate HQ abandons Carl’s philosophy of caring for employees and starts laying off people in Vegas before their pensions vest, the prodigal son must return. Although Luke’s downfall is a mesmerizing train wreck, his redemption is predictable and unearned. Worse, sentences like “Morning came early” abound.
Wish-fulfillment for a blighted economy.