PG for thematic elements, some violence and language.
Mar. 9, 2007
Drew Fuller, James Garner, Ali Hillis, Abigail Breslin, Lee Meriwether
BASED ON NOVEL BY:
Michael O. Sajbel
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The Ultimate Gift
By Belinda Elliott
CBN.com Daily Life Producer
- The Ultimate Gift is a treat for families. The latest offering from FoxFaith tugs on the heartstrings and offers a satisfying story.
The film is based on the novel by Jim Stovall and was adapted for the big screen by Regent University alumnus Cheryl McKay.
James Garner (The Notebook) portrays Red Stevens, an entrepreneur who has made millions in the oil business. When he dies, his spoiled family members and his many business associates gather for the reading of his will, each expecting to walk away with a large amount of Red’s estate.
Red’s grandson, Jason (Drew Fuller) has had a rocky relationship with his grandfather and doesn’t expect to receive anything from him. He is surprised to learn that his grandfather has indeed left something to him, but not without stipulations that must be met before he receives it.
Through a series of messages that his grandfather taped before he died, Red tells Jason that he wants to give him “the ultimate gift,” which will eventually be revealed after a series of tasks that Jason must complete. If he fails to meet any of the required conditions, he will receive nothing.
These tasks take him places that he has never been, both physically and emotionally. He spends time on a Texas ranch learning about hard work, he travels to a third-world country where he will have to face memories from his past that he has tried hard to forget, and he learns what it is like to live without the wealth that he has grown so accustomed to.
Along the way Jason befriends a young girl (Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine) and her mother (Ali Hillis). As he completes the tasks laid out for him he learns some important lessons about the impact money has had on his life, the meaning of true friendship, and the joy of living for something other than himself.
The film’s stars are perfectly cast, and the talented Breslin serves up another stunning performance. With a plot that could have easily become overly syrupy sweet, the film delicately balances edifying life lessons with touching emotional scenes.
FoxFaith is a division of Twentieth Century Fox that was formed to produce family-friendly, faith-based films. This is the company’s third theatrical release, and it is a huge improvement over their last one, Three, a suspense thriller based on Ted Dekker’s popular novel. While Three suffered from numerous plot holes and poor acting, The Ultimate Gift shines with a graceful cast and a strong plot that is not overly preachy.
For the most part, the Christian themes in this film are woven in subtly. While the movies does offer many valuable life lessons, they become merely a part of the story rather than the film’s entire goal.
The only place where this isn’t true is an unnecessary video montage that plays as the credits roll. I guess the filmmakers didn’t trust us to connect the dots ourselves, so just in case you missed them, they provide a recap of all twelve gifts with accompanying scenes from the movie.
Overall, the film is a touching story that is safe for all ages. With so few uplifting and morally wholesome films in theaters these days, The Ultimate Gift is a welcome present for families.
Bring along the kids and some tissues; you are in for a treat.
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More articles by Belinda Elliott on CBN.com
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