Predictable plot welcome, provides hope, positivity

“The Ultimate Gift” is a formulaic but heartwarming story that could perhaps answer the age-old question: “Can wealth buy happiness?” This film is based on the best-selling novel “The Ultimate Gift,” by Jim Stovall, and won the Heartland Film Festival’s Crystal Heart Award, which is awarded to films with positive values.

Jason Stevens (Drew Fuller, “Charmed”) is a spoiled rotten trust-fund baby, who has no real-life concepts of money, work or people. When his wealthy grandfather (James Garner, “The Notebook”) dies, he expects his inheritance to be handed to him on a platter. Instead, Jason is required to perform a series of tasks, designed to teach him about life. During this road to self-enlightenment, he meets Emily (Abigail Breslin, “Little Miss Sunshine”) and her mother Alexia (Ali Hillis, “Must Love Dogs”) through whom Jason learns about love and life.

Breslin is one of the higher points of this movie as an outspoken and too-mature-for-her-age little girl. Jason also meets Gus (Brian Dennehy, “The Exonerated”) a Texas rancher who teaches him how to take pride in what he does in life and that money doesn’t grow on trees but, perhaps, grows on fence posts. As with all inspirational movies, the film is predictable. It begins with the reading of Jason’s grandfathers’ will and the inevitable ugliness of a family of obnoxious, spoiled and rich members bickering over the fortune. It ends just about as predictably as it began.

However, the message – as predictable as the movie is – is a good one. In life we are born and we die, and that is not what’s important- it’s the journey within. And, even though this is a film about a trust-fund kid, the message is something that anyone who has ever wondered about the relationship between money and happiness can relate to.

This film is straight-out a family film. If you’re looking for blood and guts, this isn’t what you will want. If you’re looking for overly sexual or graphic scenes, sorry. If you want to watch a movie that shows the debasement of society, try again.

But, if you want to watch a movie with positive values, inspirational and uplifting scenes and a general premise of hope in humanity, then “The Ultimate Gift” is a definite must-see.

“The Ultimate Gift” opens in theaters March 9.

3 out of 5 stars