"The Ultimate Gift" is entertaining for children
A PG movie on a Saturday night is not usually where a sixteen-year-old wants to find herself, among small children, all slurping their non-caffeinated sodas and chomping on popcorn while giggling amongst themselves and talking loudly to anyone who will listen. But "The Ultimate Gift" fortunately kept the kids quiet and allowed parents, babysitters and siblings to enjoy the nice moral behind the story of the movie.
Imagine growing up in a luxurious environment where life is handed to you on a silver platter. This was the life of Jason Stevens (Drew Fuller), whose grandfather built up a corporation worth millions, allowing his children and grandchildren to never work a day in their lives. The movie begins with the funeral of Red Stevens (James Garner), the very grandfather who, ironically, wasn't very-well liked by his spoiled family. In turn, Red doesn't leave them with much of his legacy; instead he leaves a special mission for his grandson, Jason, to complete in order to earn the "ultimate gift." Red leaves it up to Jason to complete twelve tasks and earn gifts along the way, knowing his previous incompetence. During one of the tasks, Jason meets Alexia (Ali Hillis) and Emily (Abigail Breslin), a family who play a significant role in this life-changing journey. Jason is forced to question his friends, family and values in order to complete his grandfather's tasks and become a new man.
"The Ultimate Gift," based on Jim Stovall's book of the same title, contains several powerful messages that are important for young children—and adults—to learn. The movie presents the importance of true friendship, hard work and independence. These are lessons that a parent could simply teach, but the film does a much more effective job of teaching these lessons through the experiences of the characters.
Though it contains a powerful message, "The Ultimate Gift" was definitely not a masterpiece. It was predictable, full of cheesy lines and ridiculous moments and lengthy. Not to mention the acting, which was nothing to brag about.
Breslin, who has shown the Hollywood world that she can take on any role, plays an obnoxious, out-spoken young girl who puts on a face of strength while simultaneously hiding her struggles. She and Garner, who is only depicted through a video-recording Jason must refer to throughout the course of the movie, are the only two worthy actors in the film. Fuller presents a weak portrayal of a completely changed man, and his love-interest, played by Ali Hillis, is no better. The two actually mesh well together, both with their poorly-written roles and mediocre acting.
While there is nothing remarkable about "The Ultimate Gift," the film is still able to send across the same, tired message that younger kids will appreciate: hard work pays off. If you are desperate to do something with the kids you are babysitting next weekend, it's raining, there are no board games, and you are completely drained of any creative juices, you may as well take them to "The Ultimate Gift" for a few hours of mild entertainment.
"The Ultimate Gift" (rated PG for thematic elements, some violence and language) runs 114 minutes and is now playing at area theaters.
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