Pin It
Favorite

Take Two 

by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & The Ultimate Gift & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & hough the body may die, the spirit lives on. Red Stevens (James Garner), though, didn't become a billionaire by taking chances, so he put himself on these little DVDs he had made up before he bit it. At his funeral, the priest paraphrases Red's favorite saying. "Every happening, great and small, is a parable by which God speaks to us," comes the folksy wisdom, gliding over a family who couldn't care less. "The art of life is to get the message."





Again, though, Red doesn't trust God to deliver the message in a timely manner, especially with regard to his grandson Jason (Drew Fuller). So Red has decided to pitch in.





Thanks to his grandfather's wealth, the twenty-something has never wanted for anything. Red worries that has ruined the boy. Jason's layabout friends play Xbox all day long. Jason himself smokes and has a loud Dodge Charger. A consummate disrespect artist and child of the hip-hop generation, Jason says things like "screw him" and "this is whacked." Jason, you see, is a spoiled brat who hemorrhages money. Red's DVD aims to fix that.





In lieu of an inheritance, then, Red gives Jason a series of tasks culminating in what he promises will be "the ultimate gift." Red warns, though, that failing to complete any of the intermediate steps means Jason gets nothing. Jason goes along initially thinking such a gift must be monetary. Between the inheritance conceit and the money-for-good-will morality, The Ultimate Gift is essentially Brewster's Spiritual Millions.





That's not such a bad thing, though it ultimately falls victim to focus group dilution. The first wide theatrical release from Fox Faith Movies, the film attempts early to demonstrate a core of reckless disregard and depravity in Jason it can then mold into upstanding moral behavior. The filmmakers wanted hard, edgy, sexy and young, but didn't have the stomach for it. If Jason were really a reprobate, his friends would've been Britney Spears-ing coke and e, not just playing videogames. If he were hip, he wouldn't reference the Amazing Kreskin, a magician whose popularity waned before his birth. If he were edgy, his girlfriend wouldn't say "gosh." She'd take the Lord's name in vain. That usage, though, is more offensive to Fox Faith's target demographic than any word with four letters. Her lips say "God," but the dubbing comes through as "Gosh." Jason's miraculous transformation becomes merely unbelievable, even fake. And thus it's crippled as a morality tale aimed at people like him.





Just as the film strains to connect with young people in a meaningful (edgy, dirty) way, it also makes some rather ridiculous overtures at the kinds of Christians who'd want explicit expressions of faith.





At one point, Jason, pitching a hospital facility to potential bankrollers, finishes listing the complex's amenities. He looks momentarily confused, then remembers something he left out. "Oh yeah," says Jason, "a church. A worship center." The dude who has taken literally one trip to a chapel is now speaking as though Christianity were his only compass. The film needed to pick sides, being either a generic morality tale or something blatantly Christian. It tried both. As a result, The Ultimate Gift is a few patches of iconography hanging half-sewn onto a quilt of secular ethics. That's the kind of massive, thin blanket that comforts no one.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Game Changer
  • Game Changer

    Since Condon became mayor, Jan Quintrall has been responsible for some of the biggest changes in the city of Spokane — and some of its biggest controversies
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • In Contempt
  • In Contempt

    A Spokane judge rules that the mental health system has willfully failed to follow evaluation deadlines
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • Never Again
  • Never Again

    Washington state lawmakers push reforms after last July's murder-suicide; plus, Spokane's police ombudsman is leaving
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Campbell House Holidays

Campbell House Holidays @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through Jan. 4

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Let Us Breathe

    Spokane joins national protests over the failure to indict white officers for killing black civilians
    • Dec 10, 2014
  • Screw Big Cities

    A mid-sized manifesto
    • Dec 3, 2014
  • More »

© 2014 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation