Howard 'Red' Stevens (James Garner - The Ultimate Life) worked hard all his life, made many friends as he built a business empire and made millions. But it all came at a cost as his children became money orientated, something he realised before he passed away and decided to do something about it. Whilst he realised his own children were too old to be helped he believed there was hope for his self-centred grandson, Jason (Drew Fuller - 911 Nightmare), and gives him a special inheritance, an ultimate gift. Less than enthused about not getting a cash lump son Jason finds himself having to complete a series of tasks from working on a ranch to making a real friend, as well as heading to Ecuador where his father died, in order to learn some valuable life lessons before getting his inheritance.
Have you ever watched "Brewster's Millions" with Richard Pryor, where he has to spend a fortune to inherit an even bigger fortune; well "The Ultimate Gift" is a little bit like that. Where Pryor's character learned a series of lessons through trying to spend money here we have Jason learning various lessons by completing a series of mysterious tasks with are set by his grandfather in a video he left Jason, a decent device to make use of James Garner as the departed Howard 'Red' Stevens. And that is it as we watch Jason first end up on a ranch learning the satisfaction of hard work to what life is like when you have no money and your wealthy friends abandon you. Plus of course any movie which sees a character transform their character means they have to meet Miss Right so Jason makes friends with a girl with Leukaemia and her mother who is struggling with their circumstances.
Now all of this is entertaining, it is sweet, soapy and the messages about money and hard work and so on all have good heart. That isn't to say there are no problems in "The Ultimate Gift" as this is a movie full of impossible situations and romanticized dialogue which certainly doesn't spring from the real world. I suppose what I am really saying is that "The Ultimate Gift" is quite sappy but beneath all the sappiness is a good message.
On the subject of a lack of realism we also have the various characters and again these are all a little too perfect. Drew Fuller as Jason is far too cliche as a self-centred twenty something who has never worked a day in his life whilst Abigail Breslin is too lovable as the sick but worldly wise Emily. I could go on as this movie also includes James Garner, Bill Cobbs, Lee Meriwether and Brian Dennehy all playing perfectly cliche characters. But these characters whilst false fit perfectly within the sweet and humorous tone of the movie.
What this all boils down to is that "The Ultimate Gift" is a sweet, amusing drama with a nice little series of messages. But it is a movie which whilst entertaining is not without its flaws especially with the characters who are extremely cliche in a too perfect sense.