Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Ultimate Gift for the Whole Family

Do you need a little wake up call about the meaning of life? Are you looking for a movie that pulls you in and makes you stop and think yet entertains you with laughter and tears at the same time? If the answer is yes, then pick up this pleasant surprise of a movie. The premise of The Ultimate Gift (based on Jim Stovall's book by the same title) is a snotty rich kids expects to inherit millions from his Grandfather to continue with his limitless cashflow of a life he's lived thus far. Boy is he in for a surprise. The film begins with a billionaire's death. His more than superficous, obnoxious relatives all come in for the reading of the will. Of course, no one is pleased with the reading. The main character, grandson, Jason Stevens, is no exception. The billionaire, aptly played by James Garner, has left Jason a peculiar gift. A series of gifts actually, via video tape and delivered through his longtime lawyer and friend Ted Hamilton, played by Bill Cobbs. Jason Stevens must successfully complete all requirements of each "test" to get each gift, without knowing what he gets each time he is successful and always with the threat that if he blows it, everything is lost. Jason's world is literally turned upside down with each new gift as everything is literally taken away from him--his money, his friends, his car, his home, his dignity and even his freedom. Not since The Christmas Carol, has a story successfully engaged its viewers in such a journey. Screenwriting newcomer Cheryl McKay does a beautiful job adapting Jim Stovall's brilliant tale. An enhancement to the already great book was McKay's expansion of the "one true friend" little girl character Emily, played by Abigail Breslin. In the film version of Ultimate Gift, Emily is a major storyline which worked well for the big screen. Certainly director Michael Sajbel deserves credit and mention for the well done adaptation as well. I thoroughly enjoyed the casting as well, especially James Garner, Bill Cobbs and Lee Meriwether. If you've ever been spoiled, taken your life for granted, felt broke, been disenchanted about your life, been unappreciative, or just had one of those days, grab a tissue and watch The Ultimate Gift. You'll get your life back into perspective.