The Ultimate Life

 
(i)

 

Heavy-handed drama about true measure of wealth.
  • Review Date: September 6, 2013
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 117 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie's main purpose is to offer moral lessons about the real meaning of wealth, how a person's spouse and children are their fortune and legacy, how being there for someone means more than what you can buy them, and how being "rich" is about more than money. The movie also has faith-based themes like the idea of creating a "golden list" of 10 things you're grateful to God for each day.

Positive role models

Jason is so caught up in his family's business affairs that he doesn't realize he might lose the love of his life. He later ask for forgiveness and sets things right. Red works hard to acquire his wealth, but he also dismisses the role of education and later becomes so singularly focused on money that he's basically used as an ATM by his children.

Violence

Red enlists in World War II and is shot but saved by a fellow soldier. Audiences see the blood from the bullet wound in a brief shot.

Sex

Some flirting and a few brief kisses between teenage Red and Hannah.

Language

Insults like "hick," "hillbilly," "stupid," and "selfish," plus "hell."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Ultimate Life is the sequel to 2007's faith-based inspirational drama The Ultimate Gift. Like the original, this follow-up has lots of feel-good (if overly obvious) messages about what money can (oil rigs, big houses) and can't buy (love, happiness), and how it's a person's friendships and family that count as their true legacy, not their monetary fortune. There's little objectionable content, but the movie's messages and themes about a well-lived life and the importance of family over fortune are best suited for tweens and up. There's one violent scene when a main character fights in World War II and is shot (but survives his injury), as well as some flirting and kissing and infrequent use of words like "hell."

Parents say

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What's the story?

THE ULTIMATE LIFE takes place three years after the events depicted in The Ultimate Gift: Jason Stevens (Logan Bartholomew) is juggling being the head of his billionaire grandfather's family foundation, dealing with a lawsuit from his greedy relatives, and wanting to marry his girlfriend, single mom/nurse Alexia (Ali Hillis). When Alexia takes off to work for a charity overseas, Jason is despondent until family friend Hamilton (Bill Cobb) gives him his late grandfather's journal to guide him. The journal chronicles Red's rags-to-riches story from poor Louisiana ice delivery boy to rich Texas oilman. Inspired by Andrew Carnegie, Red sets out to make a fortune, only to discover that being a billionaire isn't what truly makes him rich.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

THE ULTIMATE LIFE is the kind of inspiring, feel-good, mildly sermonizing movie that would feel at home either as a Hallmark special or (if it had more overt references to God and scripture) as a Sunday School presentation. In those contexts, the movie provides exactly what you'd expect: a simple storyline with heartwarming lessons for men about how to be a good husband, father, friend, and man. But unless it's the object of a church-approved outing, the movie, directed by Michael Landon Jr., isn't nuanced or entertaining enough to merit the price of admission.

With its predictable plot and uneven acting (the cast includes quality veterans in small roles and a couple of unimpressive newcomers in bigger parts), The Ultimate Life suffers from being even less compelling than its predecessor, which at the very least had a more dynamic actor (Drew Fuller) playing Jason and a more interesting story of him having to "earn" his inheritance. This flashback to Red's ambitious journey to becoming a self-made man is far from Citizen Kane. It's just a corny portrayal of how money is great, but it's not what brings lasting happiness.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about The Ultimate Life's messages. What do you think the filmmakers are trying to say about fortune and family? What makes a person rich?

  • Red disregards a principal's advice because the man is educated but makes little money. Do you think someone's salary is the only measure of professional or personal success?

  • Why are rags-to-riches stories so compelling? What makes Red change his priorities? How does Red's journal influence his grandson, Jason?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 6, 2013
DVD release date:December 10, 2013
Cast:Austin James, Bill Cobbs, Peter Fonda
Director:Michael Landon Jr.
Studio:High Top Releasing
Genre:Drama
Run time:117 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:a brief battle scene and mild thematic elements

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Teen, 15 years old Written bymovienerd189 September 8, 2013
 

Sappy, harmless film

overall, decent film with a little bit of corniness. aims at Christians, but don't necessarily need to be one to watch it. would rate 3 1/2 if I could
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