Pay Quid Forward: Hallucinating Kid Turns Philanthropist

Danny Boyle's Millions is not what we'd expect from the Trainspotting and 28 Days Later director. It's essentially a gentle, kid's-eye parable: A motherless, saint-hallucinating young boy, Damian (Alex Etel), finds a Nike bag stuffed with ill-gotten gains—hundreds of thousands of pounds sterling—which he endeavors to distribute to the needy, a group that proves hard to come by. (He treats a pack of crunchy save-the-world types to pizza, and leaves cash for the electronics-deprived Mormons down the block.) Contaminating his plan is slightly older brother Anthony (Lewis McGibbon), who splurges on gadgetry and urges Damian to invest in real estate, and the knit-capped man (Christopher Fulford) who menacingly demands his loot back. A further wrinkle: Britain is about to switch from pound to euro, meaning that everything must be spent—or converted without drawing suspicion.

The plot trigger of cursed discovery suggests A Simple Plan and Stand by Me. As the altruistic, freckled Damian, Etel mostly stays on the right side of the adorable/annoying line. Damian's the opposite of his namesake from The Omen, siding with the angels instead of the lord of darkness. Saints Clare, Peter, Francis, Nicholas, and Joseph all make appearances, advising our young hero. It's a logical flight of fancy—how to explain the mind of a child who wants to give rather than get?—that still feels contrived.

Some Boyle fingerprints are discernible early on. When Damian and Anthony visit the lot where their new home will go up, the timbers sprout and walls materialize in a time-lapse fantasy, which turns out to be the real thing. And the bag of dough, when first seen, is startlingly unidentifiable, leaping across the landscape as though equipped with rockets.

 
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