Reviewer grade: C
Work builds character. Family is important. It’s better to give than to receive. If such truisms strike you as fresh and exciting, there’s plenty more where that came from in “The Ultimate Gift,” the latest offering from 20th Century Fox’s faith-based division. But this treacle is more dispiriting than spiritual.
Based on a novel by Tulsa native Jim Stovall, the picture delivers its messages with the blunt force of a grapefruit to the face. Jason Stevens (Drew Fuller) is a spoiled trust-fund baby who gets a curious inheritance from his grandfather, Red (James Garner), a saintly oil tycoon with an unquenchable love for humanity. Red directs the young man to execute a series of tasks designed to impart life lessons. It’s a moral-heavy journey that leads Jason to a girl stricken with leukemia (Abigail Breslin), her single mom (Ali Hillis) and a bunch of Ecuadorian drug traffickers. Although somewhat redeemed by a solid cast, this “Gift” is nominally more welcome than a fruitcake. But it’s just as tough to swallow. PG
“ Phil Bacharach