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Sunday, April 17, 2005

Weeks too late, I finally got myself into a theater to see Millions yesterday. This is the British family film that has gotten a lot of positive reviews from secular and Christian critics alike. I can see why, and yet, I'm not sure I would ever sit through it again -- and that is always my main criteria for giving a movie a "thumbs-up."

Maybe it helps to say that I would definitely see parts of Millions again. Namely, the first Act and a bit of Act Two.

Written by Frank Cotrell Boyce (Hillary and Jackie, which, along with Amadeus is my favorite movie about the suffering of artists), and directed by Danny Boyle (28 Days Later), the tag-line of the movie is , "Can anybody really be good?" And here-in lies the problem of the film from a critical perspective.

"Can anybody really be good?" is a great question for a movie. But it isn't the subject of the first 40 minutes of Millions. The movie morphs into that subject in the second half of the film, but, doesn't stay on topic in terms of getting to an answer. The film seems to posit the answer, in a quick ending scene, that people who are good are miracles...or one in a million.

The movie tells the story of a pure-hearted little boy, Damien, who finds millions of pounds, and thinks that it is a gift from God. He wants to give the money to the poor, in imitation of his idols, the saints. During the film, many of his favorite saints appear to him, talking about his life and theirs. It sounds hokey, but the movie pulls it off in a delightful way, with humor and quirky reverence.

As the movie brings in more characters, we discover that everyone around Damien is, in different degrees, greedy, selfish, hypocritical and unbelieving. Damien keeps telling anyone who will listen for a few moments, that he wants to be good, "because God wants it." The story unravels through the second half, but I could forgive it slightly as a stylistic attempt to realize the recollections of a six year old.

I'm not sure if kids would get Millions because the British accents are very thick. But there is a lot to like in this project, and I'm very glad someone wrote it, bought it and got it made. There's hope.