Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Ultimate Gift: a review.

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.


Susanne said...

This sounds like the kind of movie that "prosperity preachers" should show as you're walking into church.

Susanne said...

Was Tan in that movie? :)

euphrony said...

What was the Sara Groves song? Was it new for the movie, or an old one of hers?

Seth Ward said...

No, it was Something Changed. What a great writer huh?

One of the few CCM artists left that can make me cry.

euphrony said...

Great song. It's a match piece with "Like a Skin" from her third album, The Other Side of Something. I understand she has a new album coming out this year. She also has a couple of individual songs on group projects that have recently come out (Amazing Grace - Timeless Hyms of Faith and Beth Moore Presents: Songs of Deliverance).

The Cachinnator said...

How dare you say that FoxFaith is only in it for the money! It's our duty as Christians to support these movies with our dollars. Jesus needs our dollars. And if you'd pray more, you wouldn't have to dream about that 2 billion dollars. Jesus wants us to all have 2 billion dollars.

Stephen said...

Please don't buy the soundtrack for the movie. Just buy Sara's album, Add to the Beauty, that the song is on. She's working now on her second album with Brown Bannister that is due out this fall.

I've blogged a couple times recently about The Last Sin Eater, the other film FoxFaith released around the same time. And when I looked at trailers on their websites, it looked like The Last Sin Eater would be really bad, but that The Ultimate Gift would be really really bad.

Seth Ward said...

Susanne, HA! No Tan wasn't in that movie. Although he could have made it better with his little hot yellow car. That was stinkin' funny.

Seth Ward said...

Stephen, Yeah I wondered about that Death Eater flick.

It was so weird about the movie. It was better than Left Behind and all those other TBN debacles, it was just that the whole time you felt like you were being duped. Probably what people feel like when they are being "witnessed" too and the person witnessing is making believe that they are actually the sinners friend when in reality they are in it for the "soul-score"

Pendrax said...

Aw, come on, I liked the movie. Nice and predictable, and the good guys win in the end. What else can you ask for?

I'm happy Fox has finally figured out that there's serious money in making good movies. I hope they make a bundle on the thing.