In the latest release from the faith-based division of 20th Century Fox, an oil-rich billionaire (James Garner) kicks the bucket and leaves a special bequest for his trust-fund-suckling grandson (Drew Fuller)—a gauntlet of hard work and hardship designed to give the boy an appreciation for the true value of a greenback. Among the tasks: living as a homeless person, and showing some genuine compassion for a debt-addled single mom (Ali Hillis) and her leukemia-stricken daughter (Abigail Breslin). If he succeeds, the “ultimate gift” of the movie’s title will be his—which, in case you haven’t figured it out, is one of those things you can’t buy with a MasterCard. Directed with accomplished impersonality by Michael O. Sajbel ( One Night With the King), The Ultimate Gift means well, but in the end it’s The Pursuit of Happyness made from the ivory tower looking down instead of from the street looking up.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 27, 2007