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The Ultimate Gift
The Ultimate Gift
Actors: Drew Fuller, James Garner, Abigail Breslin, Bill Cobbs, Lee Meriwether
Director: Michael O. Sajbel
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
PG     2007     1hr 54min

When his wealthy grandfather dies, trust fund baby Jason Stevens inherits his grandfather's crash course on life: 12 tasks-or gifts-designed to challenge Jason in improbable ways. The "course" sends Jason on a journey of s...  more »
     
     

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Movie Details

Actors: Drew Fuller, James Garner, Abigail Breslin, Bill Cobbs, Lee Meriwether
Director: Michael O. Sajbel
Creators: Cleve Landsberg, Dave Ross, Jim Van Eerden, John Shepherd, Paul Brooks, Cheryl McKay, Jim Stovall
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Religion
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 08/21/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 54min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 1
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
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Member Movie Reviews

Mary B. from ANCHORAGE, AK
Reviewed on 4/3/2015...
This is a very sweet movie. The acting is somewhere between mediocre and great in some places, but overall it's a heartwarming presentation of a great storyline. The book and the movie do vary significantly in some places, but the theme remains the same and the artistic license in the movie fits together nicely.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Kimberly L. from RIGBY, ID
Reviewed on 3/29/2014...
Love it! Super awesome movie that is fun to watch and it teaches so many good values.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Wanda B. from BRENTWOOD, TN
Reviewed on 10/26/2012...
This is one of the best movies out there! Has a great message about what truly matters in life. Keeps you captivated throughout the whole movie. Highly recommended.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Rae J. from WINTERS, CA
Reviewed on 1/20/2011...
This movie has imagination! I love the good, wholesome and inspiring themes!
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

...a predictable film you somehow want to be predictable.
C.J. Darlington | 08/15/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Jason Stevens (Drew Fuller) is a trust fund baby--he's eaten from a silver spoon his entire life. At his grandfather Red's funeral he makes a showy (and late) entrance, perhaps punctuating his low opinion of the man. But from his grave Red (James Garner) has words for his money hungry relatives at the reading of his will. No one gets what they expect, including Jason.

In a closed conference room with only his grandfather's trusted attorney (Bill Cobbs) and secretary (Lee Meriwether) in attendance, Jason is advised by Red via a video recording that he's being given a series of gifts. The catch? He isn't told what the gifts are, only that he's to arrive at the airport and await further instructions. Is this his grandfather's form of a joke, or is Red Stevens trying to reach out and teach him things he never learned from his materialistic family?

Based on a novella by noted motivational speaker and author Jim Stovall, the filmmakers endeavored to preserve the heart of his story while still producing a relevant movie. Says screenwriter Cheryl McKay in an interview conducted by Rene Gutteridge who wrote the novelization of the screenplay, "The biggest challenge was figuring out how to handle all the gifts and not come off with a movie that felt episodic. We had to blend a couple of them together and de-emphasize a couple of them because twelve is a lot to cover in a two-hour movie."

Winner of the Heartland Film Festival's Crystal Heart Award, The Ultimate Gift features an Oscar worthy cast. Drew Fuller (best known for his recurring role as Chris Halliwell in Charmed) pulls off Jason's cockiness and spoiled brat ways, but also believably portrays his transformed self. His facial expressions alone made me laugh out loud a few times. Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine, Signs) could easily have over played her character Emily, but she doesn't, and she wins our hearts in the process. Ali Hillis (Must Love Dogs) is another notable cast member as Jason's love interest and Emily's mother. No one hits it out of the ball park, but you can still win a game without home runs, and The Ultimate Gift is a winner.

The Ultimate Gift is a predictable film you somehow want to be predictable. Its PG rating allows for a few mild swear words and tense thematic moments, but this is really a movie the whole family can enjoy.

From the vast acres of a Texas ranch to the wilds of a South American jungle, Jason's assumptions about his grandfather, and himself, will never be the same. And even though you'll most likely guess the film's ending, it's the journey that matters. We're taken on an exciting one with Jason as he discovers not only the ultimate gift, but what type of a man he's truly capable of being.

--Reviewed by C.J. Darlington for TitleTrakk"
Little Job
Rocky Raccoon | Boise, ID | 08/23/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The Ultimate Gift' is a fun and surprising inspirational gem. Not knowing quite what to expect, the movie quickly develops an emotional and entertaining core. Often funny, sad, mysterious, and uplifting in different measures, the film pulls out a unique bag of tricks. Sort of like the `Willy Wonka' of spiritual cinema, `The Ultimate Gift' is more than a "Hallmark" Christian experience.

It all begins after the death of oil tycoon, Red Stevens (James Garner) who has left videotapes for his family. Gathered around the conference table in his lucrative company headquarters, all members wait on pins and needles to see what they will inherit from him. Crassly, the greedy family can't help but commiserate over the lack of possessions he's bequeathed to them. As his custom, Jason (Drew Fuller), his black sheep grandson, comes late to the proceedings, fully expecting nothing, but wanting to make sure nonetheless. What he gets is a treasure hunt. If he performs a series of feats for the edification of his board of trustees, he will win "the ultimate gift". Heading that board is fellow associate Mr. Hamilton (Bill Cobbs), who anchors the whole deal as a living negotiator. If Jason flubs on any one of the "assignments," he loses the gift.

A lot of the proceedings depend a great deal on Red predicting what Jason will do next during the videotape. It works admirably and there's enough good humor to smooth out the edges of our disbelief. Events are often unpredictable, and the acting ranges from genuine to genuinely good. Particularly noteworthy is Abigail Breslan (Oscar nominated child prodigy from 'Little Miss Sunshine') who gives another fine performance as Emily, a sick girl with a sharp tongue, but a good heart. Reflecting on God and heaven, she sagely says, "He paints every color of a butterfly with His fingers."

The movie also brings the welcome return of Brian Dennehy as Gus, his relative from Texas. Some of the funniest parts are taken from his Southern mansion. One scene where he is rudely awakened by an electric cattle prod left me in stitches. Sometimes the relatives become caricatures, but that's few and far between. At one holiday dinner, an argument ensues and one woman tartly states "Money's just as green from Manhattan." The pace is wonderfully edited with the last portion slightly too languorous in places--even if the film needs to stop and reflect awhile. With these minor objections out of the way, the movie is wonderfully nourishing for the heart and soul.

Some controversy remains for the spiritual nature of the film. Glancing over some reviews, I found some critics becoming defensive for any favorable take on the movie. Christianity is sprinkled throughout. During work "Gotta Serve Somebody" plays from Dylan's Christian era, and a romantic dinner scene "Lord of the Dance" is cleverly piped in with acoustical guitars at a fancy restaurant. At the hospital, Emily frequents the chapel where Jason tells her the Sacred Heart statue shows Jesus' open arms to embrace her. Critics apologetically (or defensively) say that Jesus is only mentioned once in the whole movie. I don't personally think anyone should have to defend a movie for being overtly Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or whatever. "Pain is your teacher," says Red to Jason on the videotape before going to the great beyond. This could be said in an Asian movie. 'The Ultimate Gift' is overtly Christian, but inclusive. Another objection may come with the points of wisdom provided at the end. While I enjoyed the elaboration, some may find the lesson condescending--an unnecessary Sunday school highlighter pen review.

With all my lowered expectations, 'The Ultimate Gift' is a surprise. The comedic timing is great, the mystery is fun, and the emotional trek is worthwhile. (Based on a novel by Jim Stovall.)"
A Life Changing Movie
Lisa M. Hendey | Fresno, CA United States | 08/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I'm not up on the latest movies, so when a screener of a film called The Ultimate Gift arrived in my post office box on Tuesday morning, I didn't give it much thought. I hadn't heard of the movie when it was released in theaters, but was reviewing the screener for potential review at the request of a colleague. The fact that one of my favorite young actresses, Abigail Breslin of Little Miss Sunshine fame, was involved did pique my curiosity.

Imagine my shock two hours later when I came to the stunning conclusion that this film now ranks in my top five favorite movies of all time. The Ultimate Gift is based on an inspirational novel by author Jim Stovall and tells the story of one young man's life transformation from a spoiled rotten trust fund leech into a loving philanthropist. The main character, Jason Stevens, must navigate a series of twelve tasks/gifts given to him posthumously by his paternal grandfather in order to earn a mystery inheritance. The "gifts" are designed to teach him a series of life lessons and become progressively more challenging and life wrenching. Jason comes from the most despicable breed of wealthy snobs you've ever seen and is nursing a lifelong grudge against his grandfather. He launches into the challenge with one sole goal in mind: getting the money. It's his assumption that more money will equate to happiness. Happiness appears to be one of the only commodities that's sorely missing in his life.

I won't give away the ending of this remarkable film, but I do challenge you to get to the conclusion without feeling your own heart grow three sizes and reaching for the tissue. The Ultimate Gift is a movie to be shared and discussed with family members of all ages for the wonderful life lessons it shares. Entertaining performances by a talented cast lend to the charm, but the true value of this film is in the "gift" it gives to the watcher. You will be inspired to look around your own life and to pursue your own path of gifts on a journey towards making your world a better place. For those seeking support and encouragement along your path, check out The Ultimate Gift Experience website for discussion guides and inspirational ideas for helping your own family grow closer."