Friday, March 09, 2007
Movies I Have No Intention Of Seeing, #43

The Ultimate Gift

starring Some Guy, Abigail Breslin, Brian Dennehy and James Garner

directed by Michael O. Sajbel (a bunch of stuff you never heard of)

Now, look, I was all ready not to throw one of these labored, lazy, gimmicky things at you this week. I had been prepared to tell you that I was giving it a miss because there exists this week a movie I do intend to see, the ultraviolent paean to comic book homoerotica, 300. Oiled pecs and beheadings, all in front of post-production drawn-in backgrounds. Critics have said it lacks story depth, contains a lot of empty visceral thrills with little or no redeeming content, glorifies violence, has an undercurrent of eurocentric xenophobia and say it looks "too much like a video game." It's like someone has been reading the Checklist of Awesome Movie Elements (which I know they haven't because I NEVER unlock my diary)! Everyone's clearly as excited about it as I am.

Mrs. Pops clearly won't want to go, but this isn't really the kind of movie you take a girl to anyway. This is the kind of thing you and a bunch of other dudes sit through together and afterward share silent head-nods that confirm: "Bad-ass." Sure, you have to hoot a little bit louder than you normally would when the hot chick comes on screen--you know, just so there are no awkward misunderstandings in the theater restroom afterward--but that's a small price to pay to bask in the cornucopia of geek wonder that is a film adapted from a Frank Miller graphic novel.

With all my focus thus taken, I had no idea a film such as The Ultimate Gift even existed. I found it completely by mistake on the IMDb when I was out surfing for more more more 300 pre-release hype-porn.

I read the synopsis. Apparently this old dude (James Garner) dies rich. He wins, happy ending, right? No wait, there's MORE! He has this grandson played by Some Guy who stands to inherit all this money, but HANG ON! In his will, James Garner (and I had no idea he was this much of a dick) says the grandson will only inherit the money if he completes 12 tasks in a year.

OK, I'm thinking, a modern spin on the twelve labors of Hercules, right? Ooh, get it, like he'll have to face down TSA Airport Security or something and it will be like the modern-day allegorical equivalent of Cerberus, the three-headed dog who guards the gates of Hell, like Hercules had to defeat. Kind of lame, but not entirely, I guess. At least SOME chance of slow-motion shots of oiled up pecs, right?


Apparently this guy has to do shit like "find a true friend." I'm not kidding, that's one of his actual "tasks."

Then I was like, OK, I get it. Less Labors of Hercules and more Brewster's Millions. Except I know from the jump that it can't be anywhere near as good as Brewster's Millions because John Candy is dead.

Plus at the end of Brewster's Millions, at least we had the implicit suggestion that Richard Pryor was immediately going to leave that story and bang that hot overseer lady sideways.

Any chance of that here?

Christianity Today gave the film 2.5 out of 4 stars, and called it "lovingly crafted."

The Chicago Sun Times called The Ultimate Gift a "winner . . . could be described as a spiritual training film."

Oh God, it's Mitch Albom's Hollywood! It's PAX-TV on the big-screen! Jesus help us, this is a movie that douchebag Michael Medved would like!

I shouldn't underestimate this film's ability to challenge us in our core spiritual beliefs. As you can see, I'm in something of a spiritual conundrum here myself: odds are very good that had I never mentioned it, none of you would have ever heard of this monstrosity. And better off for it, no doubt.

On the other hand, letting these things go uncommented-upon would be an abdication of my sworn self-appointed role as Savior of Our Democracy. We just can't have shit like this floating around, inspiring people to be nice to each other at the expense of movies like 300, to which this film is clearly the counterprogrammed antithesis.

Do you have any idea how many thousands of people it takes to animate the severing of a human head? Think of the economy, if nothing else.

That's why this film gets the dreaded:

ZERO out of 3. No Hot Babysitters for you.


PS- And yeah, OK, it didn't take me long to fashion the above severed head, but come on. Would any of you pay $10 to watch that for two hours? I feel kind of bad subjecting you to it for free.

PPS- The IMDb synopsis was written by the director personally. I guess I should expect a very angry e-mail soon. And not just from Michael Medved. Who is a douchebag.



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