In the first part of our three-part series, we review The Ultimate Gift, a film based off the novel by Jim Stovall. We really enjoyed this film for its unusual and interesting story and incredible acting.
The Ultimate Gift was released back in 2006 and stars James Garner, Bill Cobbs, Drew Fuller, and Abigail Breslin. This movie was originally based on the book of the same name written by Jim Stovall. Since this film was released, it has sparked two sequels, the Ultimate Life and the soon to be released The Ultimate Legacy. Over the next 3 weeks, we’ll be reviewing all three films in this series. If you’re interested in ordering this film after our review, you can find it on our website at www.fishflix.com.
When his wealthy grandfather dies, Jason Stevens inherits his grandfather’s crash course on life.
In The Ultimate Gift, the videotaped will of deceased billionaire Red Stevens (James Garner) includes the “ultimate gift” for his spoiled, sullen grandson Jason (Drew Fuller). A series of tasks meant to turn Jason from a hedonistic jerk into a compassionate human being is included in the will, but whether that’s the gift or there’s a fortune at the end of the rainbow is something Jason will just have to wait to find out.
First, he’s sent to Texas to work on the ranch of one of Red’s old pals (Brian Dennehey). Then his trust fund is cut off and he’s thrown into the streets where he battles a bum for a park bench and eventually makes friends with a young girl–dying of leukemia–named Emily (Abigail Breslin). There’s some romantic bonding with Emily’s struggling mom (Ali Hills) and danger down in Costa Rica, where Jason winds up hostage to some drug-running thugs. Bill Cobbs and Lee Meriwether are the lawyers who monitor Jason’s progress.
I remember watching this film shortly after its release, and I was glad for the opportunity to watch it again recently. I had forgotten about what an incredible move The Ultimate Gift really is, and I was surprised at how very well it has aged over 10 years. This movie features a very unique plot; What would you do to inherit your grandfather’s fortune? Jason’s grandfather Red chose a very unique approach in giving his money over to Jason. Rather than simply giving him the money free and clear, he had to work for it, and learn the value of 12 different “gifts” – work, money, friends, learning, problems, family, laughter, dreams, giving, gratitude, a day and love.
This movie is well produced and enjoyable to watch, featuring an incredible cast with some solid acting roles. This movie didn’t feel like a cheaply made independent film; both the audio and visuals held up spectacularly. The film takes us on a variety of locations, taking place not only in the city, but to a sprawling ranch in Texas and the far-flung corners of Ecuador.
It’s an intriguing plotline as Jason has to discover the value of gifts that are intangible. Learning the value of love is not a physical action, it’s something you learn and feel. It seems as if Jason will never be able to complete the task and fulfill his requirements, until he meets a little girl named Emily who is dying of Leukemia. This is the point in the film when Jason begins to turn around and realizes the purpose and greatness of relationships. As Jason gets to know Emily and her mother Alexia better, they begin to form a special bond and Jason starts to understand the concept of selflessness.
The Ultimate Gift is an important reminder to never take our world around us for granted. We’ve been greatly blessed by God and it’s very easy forget how important the little gifts are, like our ability to work, our friends, family, and laughter.
I also appreciated how much you grow to like Jason by the end of the film. In the beginning, although he is the protagonist, it’s difficult to root for him because of his inconsiderate and spoiled attitude toward everything. However, as we see character development in Jason, we begin to understand why he is the way he is, and we want to root for him as he continues to grow and mature.
One of the very best parts of this film is of course, Emily, played by then 9-year old Abigail Breslin. The character of Emily is a unique and enjoyable one. While she is battling an incredibly difficult fight with leukemia, that doesn’t get her down and she still is able to maintain her spunky and sharp attitude. Emily delivers most, if not all, of the best lines in the film and is easily one of the brightest spots in the movie.
An issue I normally found with Christian movies is their tendency to make everything work out in the end. Many Christian movies seem to give the impression that if you simply allow God to take control of your life, every area of your life will always work out perfectly. However, as we know in real life, tragedies still happen and God doesn’t always choose to give us exactly what we want. The Ultimate Gift does an excellent job of showing us this hard fact of life in the end. This movie is a bittersweet one, and for that I am appreciative of its willingness to show some of the harder things of life.
Overall, I really enjoyed this movie and thought it had a lot heart. The characters were well-acted and likeable and the story was a unique and inspiring one.
This film is mostly appropriate to show to your family, with a few instances of minor language and one scene that involves drinking. We are also given the impression that the protagonist Jason is living with his girlfriend. This film is rated PG by the MPAA and as always, we like to follow the Dove Foundation’s standard which approves this movie for ages 12 and up.
If you would like to find out more about The Ultimate Gift, or would be interested in purchasing it, you can visit our website at www.fishflix.com. On our website, we have a vast assortment of Christian films you can learn about or purchase. We have a large collection, containing both classics and brand new movies that are just releasing, all at incredibly low prices. Thank you for joining us, and as always, please be sure to stay tuned as we bring you more reviews every week on the FishFlix.com Christian movie podcast.
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