peter o'toole is never an ordinary man in film. i just don't think he can be...and that's not a criticism. there's always something too luminous, too twinkling, too smart and witty. he's at his best in roles like this that let him play someone a little smarter, brighter, more attractive than anyone else. as a nonconformist "mad scientist" so obsessed with recreating his long-dead wife in his backyard lab, o'toole practically dances through the film, his generosity of spirit and warmth making the other characters come alive and his similar generosity of talent allowing room for younger actors to catch that spirit and run with it, if only for a little while. okay, so vincent spano has never been good in anything but a john sayles film, and the wife plot seems to peter out, and mariel hemingway, while delightfully trampy from time to time, seems to be trying too hard...but just watch the scenes where o'toole, chewing on his oversized cigar, playfully undermines his stuffy colleague (a funny, menacing david ogden stiers) or the scenes when tragedy strikes his young apprentice (spano) and he reaches out with the most effective looking comfort i've seen. when the boy emerges from a hospital door and looks to him and o'toole just opens his arms as wide as a church door. creator's not a great movie by any means...but you've probably not seen it and an unseen o'toole performance, especially one this warm and winning, is like a gift.