Directed by: Michael O. Sajbel
Premise: After a billionaire (James Garner) dies, he leaves the inheritance of his fortune to Jason, his shallow and impatient grandson (Drew Fuller), on the condition that Jason successfully accomplishes a series of tasks designed to make him a better person.
What Works: The Ultimate Gift seems earnest in its attempt to move the audience and share important life lessons. Although it has a very sentimental and preachy premise, the film is able to stay real enough to let the story stand out over the morals of the narrative.
What Doesn’t: The structure of the film makes it episodic, but for most of the journey Jason does not change until the very end. Most of his tasks and characters met do pay off later but Jason’s journey to South America causes the film to switch gears radically in the second act of the film, as though some other picture were mistakenly cut into the print. The back story between Jason and his grandfather is not set up properly and without that foundation it hurts the reconciliation that the film is moving toward. The film does get extra gooey in parts, especially in the relationship between Jason and a leukemia stricken child (Abigail Breslin). This subplot goes through the clichéd dying child storyline where the hero is redeemed by the loss. Although Breslin’s performance is good, the character is fairly stock and so are the lessons to be learned from her.
Bottom Line: The Ultimate Gift is an average film. It is a nice movie but it is so focused on being wholesome that it cannot say anything original or interesting.
Episode: #133 (March 18, 2007)