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The Ultimate Gift

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
The Ultimate Gift Movie Poster Image
Faith-based movie with obvious but positive messages.
  • PG
  • 2007
  • 114 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 12 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Thorough delivery of obvious messages: finish what you start; be free to dream; the "promised arms" of God and Jesus are meant for you; most very rich people are selfish and ignorant; true fulfillment comes from helping others. The actual "ultimate gift" is finally revealed to be a well-lived life,which includes a combination of friends, money, work, learning, family, laughter, gratitude, giving, love, problems, dreams, and making each day count.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The leading player begins as an arrogant, lazy, hard-living bad boy; he very quickly becomes a moral, loving, philanthropic hero. One-dimensional, stereotypical characters include: oblivious, mean-spirited rich people; criminal South American drug dealers; a saintly single mom. Lots of ethnic diversity with one leading African-American mentor playing a crucial role.


A harsh sequence in which a group of guerilla drug dealers capture, imprison, and beat up the hero and his friend. They are threatened with death. A rancher thinks it's funny to awaken his employee using a cattle prod. The protagonist slaps two obnoxious bullies.


Some romantic, gentle kissing as a relationship blooms. A man observes his girlfriend (in a skimpy outfit) kissing her new love. Discussion of the circumstances surrounding a child born outside of marriage.


"Screw" and "hell."


Sprite, Lacoste.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Early in the movie, the leading man smokes. Several scenes show moderate social drinking: champagne on an airline flight, at Thanksgiving dinner, celebrating a library opening, relaxing at home. Drug lords chug-a-lug from a bottle as they intimidate and threaten their captives.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Ultimate Gift is a faith-based, message drama that includes several deaths and has some very sad moments. A very unlikable young man is awakened by his boss using a cattle prod, left without resources to fend for himself on the streets, and is captured, beaten, and threatened with death by drunken drug dealers. There is some mild cursing ("hell," "screw him"), and several scenes in which characters drink and smoke. Spoiler alert: A little girl with leukemia, in whom the audience is heavily-invested, dies off camera. Her death may be very upsetting to kids.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byDr3w November 9, 2011

Not A Religious Movie

Common Sense Media gets it all wrong, yet again. Ok, so this film has some religious overtones. But it's not all about a spoiled rich kid getting religio... Continue reading
Adult Written bygoodparent March 19, 2010

A Great Movie for The Whole Family, With Kids 10+

Fantastic movie! In addition to having a powerful core message, it tells a great story. Yes, it has some emotional parts, but they're good emotional part... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old April 9, 2008

i got teary

Its a really sweet but sad movie. Its sad at the end because the little girl dies. This is a good movie for the family.
Teen, 13 years old Written byJayLikesCSM December 23, 2013

It is okay but be cautious if children are sensitive to characters dying and swearing.

It is a good movie. One time i saw it at school. Sure it does have some mild swearing but that just is the phrase "screw you" and "h*ll" oth... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE ULTIMATE GIFT follows the travails of 24-year-old Jason (Drew Fuller), a selfish trust-fund kid who arrives late for his grandfather Red (James Garner's), funeral, then complains at the reading of his videotaped the will. Obviously, he has lots of lessons to learn. Red dangles a prize before his grandson, saying that if he does as he's told, he'll eventually possess "the ultimate gift." En route, Jason meets a series of helpful folks, including Gus (Brian Dennehy), a rancher who has Jason set a lot of fence posts so that he can experience the rewards of manual labor. Back in the city, Jason learns that he's now out of credit. His spoiled, money-hungry girlfriend replaces him, he argues with a bum (Tom Conder), and he meets adorable 10-year-old mini-Goth girl Emily (Abigail Breslin), who, along with her mother, teach Jason his greatest lessons. Jason ends up taking a detour to seek out his father's legacy (he died doing good work in Ecuador). He encounters a squad of gun-toting Ecuadorian drug dealers who beat and imprison him; but again he learns a lesson, doing the right thing by his nameless guide, who's also abused by the thugs. Jason's "gift," at last, has to do with giving to others.

Is it any good?

Thank goodness for Bill Cobbs. As Hamilton, the wise, infinitely patient lawyer in The Ultimate Gift, he provides welcome respite from the movie's sentimental, predictable action. Nuanced and detailed, his performance is the film's only convincing element. Too bad Hamilton is just a supporting character. The film's insistence on stereotypes is evident in the introduction of violent Ecuadorian drug dealers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the change in Jason. What is the "ultimate gift" his grandfather teaches him? How do the various secondary characters -- his materialistic mother, the "bum" who steals in the park, the "amigo" in Ecuador -- help Jason learn his lesson? How does Emily provide Jason with a model for good behavior?

  • Is it obvious that this movie has faith-based messages? Why or why not?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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