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Friday, December 30, 2005

DVD REVIEW: Millions (2005) ****

Millions (2005) Big Poster
PG (for thematic elements, language, some peril and mild sensuality)
1 hr. 37 min.
written by: Frank Cottrell Bryce
produced by: Graham Broadbent, Andrew Hauptman, & Damian Jones
directed by: Danny Boyle

Here's a movie about a coupla kids that come upon a bag full of a million dollars....for adults. Yeah, it's a real sweet movie about two brothers but the true messages it holds will really hit home more for adults than children. If I had seen every movie released this year (in other words, if I got paid to review movies) this one would be in the top five of my top ten. As it is, it is easily on my Top 10 best films of 2005 list. It's a real sweet treat that'll leave you thinking about it long after viewing!

Damian Cunningham (Alexander Nathan Etel) is a 7 year-old boy with an imagination so vivid he believes he sees famous Catholic Saints in the flesh. This could be due to his vast knowledge of all the stats on these Saints, his inspirational faith, or a way to deal with the recent loss of his mum. His 9 year-old brother Anthony (Lewis Owen McGibbon) is much more realistic and practical and sees Damian's bizarre knowledge and behavior downright weird. In fact, on their first day at a new school together he asks Damian to try acting normal for once and be like all the other kids. Yet, that's what's so sweet about Damian is that he's so true to himself. He speaks his heart.

The movie begins with their father, Ronnie (James Nesbitt) recently moving them into a home in a newly built community near the rail in suburban Liverpool. When a duffel bag filled with $265,000 falls outta the sky (it would appear) lands on Damian's cardboard fort near the house it sets he and his brother on an adventure that leads him to see what true wealth really is. As they both try and figure out what to do with their new found loot they better figure it out fast because the UK is about to switch its currency from Pounds to Euros in one week.

So what do Damian and Anthony decide to do with alla that loot? There were plenty of times while watching where I thought, "what would I do?" Well, what's cool about the brothers is that their are different enough that they both have their own ideas as to how best to utilize their windfall. At first they start to give some away to friends and then they treat a huge table of homeless folk at the local Pizza Hut. Yet, while Damian wants to continue their charity work, Anthony wants to investt he money. Tension builds between the two when Damian donotes $10,000 pounds to a visiting charity at school that would help less fortunate villagers in Africa. Of course this was right after Anthony had just got done warning him that giving too much away at a time wil draw too much attention to them.

I'm not gonna mention where the money came from although the movie does go into detail on that. Mainly, cuz I see that as a subplot that although integral, takes away from the real story which involves the boys, their father, and Dorothy. Now, Dorothy (Daisy Donovan) is the woman who works at the charity that finds Damian large donation in a donation basket. I also won't mention much more about the film, I'll leave alla that for you to discover. It's about how these boys deal with the death of their mother in funny and serious ways. It's about their lonely father dealing with raising two boys alone and possibly getting to know Daisy.

The direction and writing of Millions is wonderful. There are special effects that serve the wonder and awe of the story and that's it. There are sporatic appearances by Saints that are there to help and guide Damien thru dealing with life without mum and his money problems. Danny Boyle ("Trainspotting" & "24 Days Later") deserves great credit for establishing his range and making a family movie that isn't "dumbed down".

The cast starting with the brothers is amazing. It's easy to find cute kids but finding cute kids that can act is hard. There's onlt so many Dakota's or Haley Joels out there. It's sad that this movie isn't more popular than it is. I laughed, cried, and was surprised as I watched it and I thought, here's a family movie that has a great message of faith for adults and children. There have been movies in the past about chracters who come upon sudden cash. It's nuthin' new. I automatically think of "A Simple Plan" with Billy Bob Thornton. The only thing both movies have in common is that coming across this money did not necessarily make life any better. But, here the money is simply a tool that helps the brothers to see what being good is and what true wealth is. I highly recommend this heartwarming film about miracles and millions.

Special Features: The movie has a great full-length audio commentary by director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce. Some deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes featurettes.

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