"The Ultimate Gift" Keeps on Giving

I’m a sucker for a heart-wrenching tale, and have been known to tear up during sad movies and at poignant moments. Tonight I watched a movie that brought out these same sappy tears but the message definitely bears repeating. I think this film is part of a new division called Fox Faith, packaging these message-laden movies with their own brand.

“The Ultimate Gift,” was cliched yet drove home a bunch of salient points, about virtues and gifts that make life worth living. It’s about a billionaire who dies and leaves a bunch of unhappy relatives who squabble for his riches yet know nothing about decency, what’s really important, or how to treat other people. They’re dispicable rich, with their own servants and stocks and morally bankrupt. One of them, though, is chosen to follow a circituitous route to eventual wealth…grandson Jason. James Garner plays the part of the deceased grandpa, coming to life on a series of videos, instructions on life’s various gifts and how to find them.

Jason is a prima donna who’s too rich, too profligate and has never worked a day in his life. He’s flown out to a ranch and put to work digging postholes. Then all his credit cards and even his penthouse is taken away, and he must make a friend without any of these. He’s flown down to Ecuador where a library was built by his grandpa but named for him. He endures hardships, finds real happiness in serving others, and grows into a real man with values that Garner would appreciate.

In the end vast riches come to him as he learns to give, and give away, a vast fortune, and finds a true friend in a woman with a sweet and sick young daughter (played by the wonderful Abigail Breslin). Even though friends who deserted him come back with the money, he sticks to the ones he made when he had none.

Finding the gifts of work, friendship, laughter, family and finally, of service give him all he needs to live a fullfilled and satisfying life…and the extra billion didn’t hurt either.