Rated: PG Reviewed by: Jim Release date: March 11, 2005 Released by: Twentieth Century Fox
A lightweight, often charming take on the old Richard Pryor/John Candy film Brewster’s Millions with a child like sensibility is Millions, directed by Danny Boyle. Some audiences will have a little trouble with some of the British accents, especially younger ones.
Boyle, after his apocalyptic zombie world 28 Days Later, locates this fable like tale, a more serious children’s picture, in the Liverpool, England area where the United football team is a big draw.
A middle class family is trying to cope with the sudden loss of a mother and wife. The brothers are Damian (Alex Etel) and Anthony (Lewis McGibbon), aged 7 and 9 respectively.
Damian wishes to be a saint and wouldn’t you know it, a large duffle bag of cash (actually hundreds of thousands of British pounds) literally lands in his lap, in a fort constructed from cardboard boxes. It must be a present from God and his spiritual aspirations prompt him to provide for the less fortunate. Anthony has other, more practical ideas with this unforseen bounty, but they have to keep it hush-hush.
The script by Frank Cottrell Boyce (The Claim) tries to bring in some thoughtfulness when it comes to materialism and religious themes, as well as a beat the clock scenario to use the cash. James Nesbitt is good as the boys’ doting father who is charmed by an energetic charity worker (Daisy Donovan). Of course, a thief (Christopher Fulford) turns up in search of the missing loot to complicate things, along with the monetary unit of the pound being converted over to the Euro.
While some of the logic doesn’t always feel seamless within some wry, running jokes, Boyle gives some feeling to the magic realism in working with his crew. A blast of CGI helps showcase an expressive, zippy visual style. Millions can be a little foreboding, but often heartwarming, especially when Damian asks about one Saint Maureen. Maybe the sentiment flows too heavily at the finish, but McGibbon and, especially Etel, help make this “bag of cash” movie an honest, intimate pleasure in time for Easter.