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Millions
2005 - PG - 98 Mins.
Director: Danny Boyle
Producer: Damian Jones
Written By: Frank Cottrell Boyce
Starring: James Nesbitt, Daisy Donovan, Lewis McGibbon, Alex Etel
Review by: Harrison Cheung
   
Director Danny Boyle, the British director who brought us such gritty fare as ’28 Days Later,’ launched Ewan McGregor’s career with ‘Trainspotting’ and ‘Shallow Grave,’ and almost sank Leonardo DiCaprio’s career with ‘The Beach,’ now goes for family friendly feel good with ‘Millions.’

Think of ‘Millions’ as Boyle’s approach to ‘Billy Elliot’ as imagined by Tim Burton. When a widower in Northern England moves his two sons to a brand new housing development, the brothers struggle to acclimatize themselves to a new neighborhood and a new school. Middle class bland, their new house sits near a high speed railway which happens to be beside a nuclear reactor.

In a play fort made of old TV boxes, one brother ends up finding a giant duffle bag stuffed full of British currency, just weeks before the £ is to be replaced by the Euro €. Unknown to the boy, the bag was tossed by a bank robber off the train. The boy believes the bag is a gift from God to do some good.

However, the brothers have different ideas about what to do with the money. Older brother Anthony wants to spend the money to impress friends at a new school. In a witty poke at lifestyles of the rich and famous, Anthony becomes a pint sized player at school, with his own posse and groupies. But angelic kid brother, ironically named Damian, wants to give the money to the poor. Damian has a fixation on the lives of the Saints, so he imagines each Saint giving him advice.

In Boyle’s parable about greed and materialism, with the clock striking down the expiration of the British pound, ‘Millions’ ends up being a surprisingly sweet yet toothless film about goodness and a miracle or two. The brothers, suffering from the recent death of their mother, are particularly sensitive to their father’s dating habits. Money as spiritual salve works fine for Anthony, but Damian naively tosses the money around, trusting his instincts and the advice of various saints. There’s some trademark Boyle zing as everyone from beggars in the street to Mormons around the block benefit from the boy’s generosity.

The two leads - Alex Etel (Damian) and Lewis McGibbon (Anthony) are very good and always believable. Etel is of the cherubic English schoolboy variety, while McGibbon is like a British version of a young Justin Berfield.

Once we’re past the initial giddiness of having millions of pounds to play with, the boys soon become the target of a bank robber, eager to recover his loot. Restrained by a family friendly rating, Boyle avoids putting the kids in any real danger – and this is where ‘Millions’ apes a Chris Columbus (‘Home Alone’) flick.

For Boyle, who has specialized in black comedies, the ending of ‘Millions’ plays almost Disneyesque, compounded with an opera set to an Afro beat – something that was done by British Airways commercials 10 years ago. Boyle still has his edge – just check out the brilliant ’28 Days Later’ – but ‘Millions’ is a serviceable foray into family entertainment disappointingly without the trademark Boyle bite.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

 
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