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The Ultimate Gift

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A feckless trust-funder Jason (Drew Fuller of TV's Charmed) gets a lesson in living better, when his granddad (James Garner) leaves him a series of tasks in his will. Michael O. Sajbel's adaptation of Jim Stovall's novel presents familiar routes to being a better human: empathy, charity, courage of conviction, the satisfaction of work well done. You'll likely grasp this long before Jason; the film seems to take an eternity to get the obvious. Besides poor pacing, Gift also lacks tension. We're chiefly holding on to see what new task Jason gets assigned, because in this rosy-glow, TV-movie-style light drama the outcome is never in doubt. Family entertainment with clear moral lessons is a worthy genre that doesn't need to be so rote and tepid (a welcome exception was 2004's quirky Millions). Abigail Breslin, so unaffected and winsome in Little Miss Sunshine, is insufferable here as a mouthy, precocious cancer patient who befriends Jason. Starts Fri., March 9. (AH)

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