The Ultimate Gift is the type of movie that draws one into a heart-warming experience even though the story line is obvious. You know where it’s going. A wealthy older man is dying… he decides to be wise in the distribution of his wealth… he has failed with his kids (they have been ruined by wealth), but he has hope for his grandson if…
The “if” is what the movie is all about.
James Garner does an excellent job endearing us to his role as Red Stevens. Red has more money than he knows what to do with, but he has accumulated it the old-fashioned way. He has earned it with good old-fashioned effort, sweat and dreams. Somehow, his family hasn’t learned the lessons he learned. They have become quite comfortable living off of trust funds. All of their needs are being met with no effort on their part to earn it.
The grandson, Jason Stevens (Drew Fuller), hasn’t worked a day in his life. He is spoiled rotten like the rest of the family, but he has the same spark his dad had when he was young. It’s this spark that the grandfather sees and banks on. He believes if he can put Jason through a series of tests, or “gifts” (as he calls them), Jason will become a wealthy man in character, heart, actions, and, of course, money.
Movie viewers work through the series of “gifts” with Jason. We feel the pain of learning to work. We understand when Jason has to lose everything and find true friendship. Our hearts are touched as Jason learns to be a giver and not a taker. We feel the bond growing in our hearts as Jason meets Emily (Abigail Breslin) and her mother Alexia (Ali Hillis). He learns to love them in a way he has never understood in his life before.
Abigail Breslin does much with the role of Emily, making us laugh one minute and cry the next. She truly brings a spark of joy to the movie and to life. We are encouraged to live life to the fullest and take advantage of each life experience as it comes. Who knows when it will be our last?
It is touching to see the changes that come over Jason as he works through his “gift.” But, perhaps The Ultimate Gift isn’t as much about Jason and his grandfather as it is about all of us as we seek to make a difference in this world. Jason passes each test as it comes and is eventually given the Ultimate Gift of making a difference. It isn’t about money… it’s all about character and life—living. It’s about truly learning to be a man of wealth.