I saw "The Ultimate Gift" tonight, one of the new "Faith-centered" movies coming out of the FOX Faith marketing division lately. Yeah, Fox has decided that it has tasted the waters of Christian commerce and found that it was good. It was soooo yummy and the fish are sooooo hungry that they built a whole wing dedicated to making films for the Christian subculture. I guess the FOX Jesus studios are right next door to "Wife Swap" sets or "The Surreal Life" sets, both of which are living testaments to a truly depraved and self-absorbed culture.
My point: Don't be a sucker. Fox is in it for the cash and cash they will rake. The motivation is no different than the "Surreal Life" motivation to stick Tammy Fay in the same house as a retired porn star, shake up the Jar and watch them fight. It is just that the jar you are in causes much tears and yields much purified Chrisitian cash.
The film- Words cannot express the discomfort this film gave me but I will try. (knuckles cracking)
For starters, I felt like someone had laced my underwear with chili pepper. I squirmed, looked at my watch, and tried desparatedly to hear a faint action sequence to the more realistic "300" going on next door. Honestly, it is almost not worth reviewing. Yes it had a moral. My Lord did it have a moral. I have a black eye from the assault of morals. If you didn't "catch" the morals then you just might be clinically insane or blind and deaf. The writers of this film danced through the gifts of laughter, money, family, friends and love with the subtlety of a Roto-Rooter man on a tractor at a monster truck rally. I truly felt like I was watching a Christian Lifetime movie on my period... and I'm a guy. The acting performances were good but the premise of the movie was PROSPERITY. I don't care how many lessons the guy learned, in the end it was still all about the cash. I felt guilty at the end of the movie when he got the big score because I started fanaticizing about all I could buy with 2 billion dollars he landed. I had the opposite effect with "The Pursuit of Happiness." In that movie I felt the big payoff of big cash at the end left me feeling empty and I just wanted to go home and hug my wife. Here the payoff was supposed to be "go hug your wife" but I was thinking about rolling around on the deck of the new yacht that I would buy with all that cashola from dead grandaddy warbucks.
Moral of the story to filmakers: Don't beat me over the head with the moral of the story or it might have an adverse effect. At a certain point the body will reject too much sugar and cause death by coma. The End.
The plot: Deceased billionaire (James Garner) leaves his party-animal-uber-cool-materialist-hottie grandson "something" that he will get only if he passes a series of tests to build his character. Gee what could that "something" be?... Hmmm could it be ...the rest of his vast fortune??? Anyways, he reluctantly accepts the challenge and much character is built including getting caught by Ecuadorian drug lords while finding the plane his father crashed because his father was trying to convince his grandad that there was oil in them thar Ecuadorian hills when all his Grandfather wanted to do was build a library for these poor Ecuadorians. Somehow he is told that his dad died in the crash trying to deliver medical supplies to a neighboring village. The reason for the lie is still a complete mystery to me. What is so wrong about drilling for oil???
Tired yet? Yeah me too.
Recomendation: It is safe for the whole family but so is a game of monopoly. Play monopoly. At least there you can get better at math and learn that if you risk a lot you might loose it all. A better lesson than: "If you pass the second to the last test that your billionaire grandfather set up for you and build a designer hospital for the leukemia girl that you met as a part of your "test" to get riches then you shall get the ultimate Cash pile.
Grade: D------------- and a barf bag in a pair tree.
Best part of the film: The Sara Groves song at the end. Just beautiful. Seriously. I might own the soundrack for just that song.
P.S. Actually the best part of the film for me was getting to watch it with my dear friends the Holtzmans. Amber is still in Dallas and they took pity on this poor lonely man and treated him to a movie that he just ripped a new one. I am thankful for the time spent with them but wanted to take a tommy gun to the screen.