The Ultimate Gift

  • Review Date: August 19, 2007
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 114 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Faith-based movie with obvious but positive messages.
  • Review Date: August 19, 2007
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 114 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
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5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

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

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.

Violence

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.

Sex

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.

Language

"Screw" and "hell."

Consumerism

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.

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:March 9, 2007
DVD release date:August 21, 2007
Cast:Abigail Breslin, Bill Cobbs, Drew Fuller
Director:Michael O. Sajbel
Studio:Fox Faith
Genre:Drama
Topics:Friendship
Run time:114 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:thematic elements, some violence and language.

This review of The Ultimate Gift was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written by111 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

Life is better when given away. Easily forgotten & new news for many.

Encouraging, challenging, entertaining, heart wrenching… all effectively challenge the thinking of any honest person, to live with eternal perspective, rather than mostly self-indulgence. I wouldn’t call it a “Christian” film, though many offended by its Judeo Christian morals, do call it that. It does not proclaim Christ as savior and King. It does, however, demonstrate, some of the quality of life that often results from living life as frequently according to God’s moral law as possible. A fantastic film, pointing us in a good and meaningful direction.
Kid, 10 years old April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

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.
Adult Written byDr3w November 9, 2011
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

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 religion. The main character never becomes a Christian or even shows any signs of being religious. This is a story about a selfish immature playboy finally coming to realize what the truly important things in life are. This film celebrates hard-work, friendship, family, generosity and treats religion respectfully, but this is not a religious film. I love this movie, honestly. I've seen it close to five times now, and it still has the power to make me laugh and cry. Abigail Breslin is soooo cute as usual playing her part with wit and dramatic talent. The other performers, many of whom are not well-known, are excellent as well. This is a first-class production and doesn't suffer at all from its relatively low budget. There are a few content issues with this film, but for the most part I think parents can talk them through with their kids. There is some implied cursing (characters use screw and BS to stand in for the real curse words), an implied sexual relationship between the main character and his girlfriend (who wears fairly low-cut outfits), and some brief violence, but overall these are not glorified by the film and I think that parents can talk through these issues with their kids. Don't listen to Common Sense Media when they give this film only two stars for quality and describe it as a film where "Spoiled, vapid rich boy gets religion." There is so much more to it than that. This is a really good movie, and I highly recommend it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models

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