The Ultimate Gift (2006)

Gifts are an off sort. Some are awesome- like a billion trillion dollars; others are not so cool- like being punched forty times. And other still are in the gray until color fills them with life. The Ultimate Gift is that gray area where protagonist Jason Stephen’s, the grandson of an ultra-rich philanthropist, learns the value of not only a dollar but life as well.

You see, after Jason’s grandfather-Red-dies he leaves his family, a rotten bunch of people, nothing but strands of his vast fortune. Who inherits his estates, off-shore accounts, and vast riches is unknown. But he does have a person in mind: Jason. Problem is that Jason is a playboy who hasn’t worked a day in his life. And so Red has given him a series of gifts, of challenges. Before he gets any inheritance he must complete a set of challenges: working for a month on a Texas farm, living without resources or money, making a true friend, helping underprivileged people learn in Ecuador, being charitable and so forth. For someone like Jason this is harder than it sounds. Yet in the end he succeeds, finds out who his true friends are, discovers the love of his life, and becomes extremely wealthy in the process of building a super-hospital.

Does it sounds like a family movie? If it does that is because it is a family movie; endorsed by the Dove Foundation, amongst other purveyors of all that is moral, The Ultimate gift is an endearing film of unlocking true potential. No swears, but some sass and witty writing make it an entertaining movie. The mise-en-scene is eye-rollingly clichéd but that doesn’t infect the value over all. Music is appropriately sad, uplifting, or inspiring- depending on the situation. But the character development is done well; at the beginning of the movie though Jason is a slacker by the end he is a morally upright citizen who understand the value of life. The transformation is splendid. However, do not get me wrong- the acting could be far better. The person who played Jason has the monotone abilities of a puppet.

So I liked it. This is good because I was sure I would hate it. Though I despise the terribly bourgeois morality- all would be better if people understood the value of a dollar and hard work; a political message which berates the working class- the ultimate construction of the film made those waves bearable. So I will say this: that there are worse, less interesting family films out there. If a soul searching journey is on the agenda then this is a good place to start.

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