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The Ultimate Gift (PG-13)





Release Date: March 9th, 2007 (AMC Empire 25) by Fox Faith.
The Cast: James Garner, Drew Fuller, Abigail Breslin, Lee Meriwether, Ali Hillis, Brian Dennehy , Bill Cobbs, Mircia Monroe.
Directed by Michael O. Sajbel.

BASIC PREMISE: In order to receive the inheritance his billionaire grandfather (Garner) leaves him, Jason (Fuller) must complete specific tasks laid out by his will. Based on the book by Jim Stovall.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: The Ultimate Gift has an initially intriguing plot that could have been much more compelling with less preachiness and more plausibility and . Drew Fuller gives a mediocre performance as Jason, a young, spoiled man whose recently deceased grandfather, Red, leaves him a conditional inheritance in the opening scenes. Ted (Cobbs), Redís lawyer, oversees Jasonís actions to make sure they comply with the will. Itís not quite clear how Ted knows exactly what Jason is doing, though, which slightly diminishes the plausibility. The rest of the film follows Jason as he goes from one task to another while listening to his grandfather instruct him in a recorded videotape. His tasks include going out into the country for a month to work for a farmer (Dennehy) who uses a stun gun to wake him up at 5 AM. During another task, Red says he will have to learn the value of money, so, soon enough, Jason canít pay for his dinner date with his gold-digging girlfriend (Monroe) and becomes a bum. While sleeping on a park bench, Jason somehow befriends Emily (Breslin), a young girl who has leukemia. At the same time, he quickly develops a romance with her mother, Alexia (Hillis). Screenwriter Cheryl McKay tries too hard to spell everything out neatly for the audience while offering very little in terms of suspense, much unlike in the much more imaginative, direct-to-video gem Interstate 60. Too many scenes seem melodramatic, awkward or simply implausibleói.e. how does a young leukemia patient simply run out of her hospital unsupervised? By the time Jason goes through his final task, youíll be going through your own task of trying to stop from rolling your eyes without ODing on all the preachiness.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: The best way to learn lifeís lessons is through experience. Appreciating friendship, family, money, hard work and love can take a lot of time. In reality, these lessons are not spelled out so neatly like in this film. Itís ultimately your job as a decent human being to look within yourself and to contemplate on your past experiences. In turn, youíll try your best to learn lessons from your mistakes and try to teach those lessons to the next generation who will also make mistakes. Thatís simply part of growing up, which some adults have yet to do.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Excessively preachy, convoluted and implausible.

NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 4

IN A NUTSHELL: Somewhat intriguing, but too preachy, convoluted and implausible. Rent Interstate 60 for a much more entertaining and thought-provoking ride.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: DVD


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