Millions is just about the last sort of film one would expect from director Danny Boyle, whose three best known films are probably Trainspotting, The Beach, and 28 Days Later, all of which bear little resemblance to Millions.
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The movie centers on a British family, consisting of a widower father and his two boys, the younger of which possesses an ethereal and comprehensive knowledge of all the Catholic saints. When a duffel bag filled with cash almost literally lands in the lad's lap, Damian and his brother Anthony have a problem most would love to, but never will, face: what to do with the money and whom to tell about it. That sets up the focus of the film, how people react to such monetary circumstances.
Millions is a decent film, in the truest sense of the word, both morally and cinematically. Those looking for any remnant of morality in film or life will ecstatically find it here. Rated PG, Millions is nearly appropriate enough for family viewing, with one gratuitous close-up (that should probably merit a PG-13 label) the exception. But because this movie fills the void of films that appeal to both kids and adults, it is receiving an excess of praise, primarily due to the lack of competition.
Those who have standards, particularly of the religious variety, may not enjoy it quite as much, because its theology seems inconsistent, being used as a convenient crutch rather than a plot device. The movie lays a solid religious foundation, but then lapses into often misguided cliches for much of the movie. That's disappointing for a couple reasons. Firstly, the concept of a modern young boy interacting with saints of yore pleads for further exploration it is denied. Secondly, an accurate portrayal of the collision of money, greed, and faith, could have only augmented the story, which was set up beautifully before falling short of its ultimate goal.
The music of John Murphy helps the cause, ranging from Harry Potter-esque magical strains to the hard-Coldplay sounds of Muse to standard ominous thriller tones. This rightly reflects the composition of the movie. Millions merges pieces of familiar genres into an imaginative puzzle that fits together both well and unevenly, lacking in degree of difficulty. The result is a unique combination of unoriginal fragments, worthy of both praise and shrugs.
An issue I often have with this sort of film is how the children are portrayed. As is frequently the case, the kids in Millions come across as precocious. Despite the semi-supernatural explanation, they still seem too wise for their age, and fail to do what most all children would do upon discovering a large amount of money: tell their father. Maybe I'm incorrectly imposing my own thoughts and actions on the characters, thus negating the willing suspension of disbelief. I also realize that characters wise beyond their years are a grand cinematic tradition. But unlike Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense, the two boys seemed to be adults in shrunken bodies, rather than a kid dealing with kid problems in kid ways.
Watching Millions is like turning on your car's vent on a hot summer day. While initially refreshing, it soon grows stale and less enjoyable as you become inured to the mediocre temperature it establishes. Still decent, but not nearly as brilliant as many would have you believe. 6 of 10.
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