Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Movie Review: The Ultimate Life

Title: The Ultimate Life
Author: based on the book by Jim Stovall
Genre: drama, family
My Rating: ***
Official Rating: PG
Age Group: 12+

Summary: Jason Stevens went through an awful lot of trouble to gain his grandfather's fortune. He also learned an awful lot of life lessons and met his girlfriend along the way. But when running a charity foundation consumes all his time and he neglects those around him who need him most, he is brought back to realty by a hard punch to the gut.
Shaken and confused, he turns to his grandfather's oldest living friend and adviser for help. Mr. Hamilton hands young Stevens his grandfather's journal and shuffles off to bed, muttering something about how Red Stevens wrote the life lessons he'd learned in there and they might help Jason with his problem.
Jason kicks back to read, and we go back in time to meet a young fifteen year old Red Stevens. Long before he was a billionaire, he was a poor ice boy....

Word of Warning:
All things considered, this movie was pretty acceptable. The PG rating was quite accurate. The biggest problem younger viewers might have is the war scene (more details below) but overall language and all other elements were kept well within the PG zone. It was refreshing to see such a good movie manage to stay within its boundary of PG and still turn out so well.
  • A gentle but slightly long chaste kiss between two adults.
  • A man walks out on a woman he just half-proposed to to deal with business matters.
  • A family is constantly bickering, even taking each other to court over money they do not need.
  • Young Red says quite often in the first part of the movie with great determination, "I swear to heaven."
  • The light bullying of the ice boy by "rich snobs."
  • A family cannot afford medicine so the mother remains sick with a terrible hacking cough, tucked away in bed.
  • A father is very hard on his son, not supportive, and quite gruff.
  • A boy runs away from home so his family can afford more food and hopefully medicine for his mother.
  • A man is pulled from a rail car and beaten with a police stick off screen (we here a few grunts).
  • Red and another man freighthop. The other man seems to do it on a regular basis, and Red gives no indication that he sees it as wrong.
  • A teen remarks, "Girls call me stud" but this is somewhere in the 1930s or 1940s.
  • A bank foreclosed on a family ranch, forcing one of the boys to go out and find work away from his family.
  • The slow apparently passionate (it's clear they meant it to be scandalous, but it's not even close to most movie kisses) kiss of a young couple at a dance.
  • One teen says to the other, good-naturedly, "You're like toe fungus."
  • A quick hesitant kiss between teens. They kiss again later but it isn't very long.
  • A war zone scene shows explosions and gunfire. A mine sends shrapnel into Red. A guy runs out to save Red and is almost shot. We see Red with blood on his mouth and stomach and get a brief glance of his bloody wound before Gus covers it and applies pressure. Red screams and the scene ends.
  • A dad is too busy to spend time with his son. After a good talking-to from his wife, he realizes his mistake and, exhausted from working all day and preoccupied, he trudges back outside to play catch with his son.
  • Someone uses the word crap. Someone else states, "Everything's about money" and he lives his life by that philosophy. In the end, he does learn his lesson.
  • A man is careless to others' wants and desires, taking what he wants with money and considering nothing but company profit.
  • On the road to becoming rich, the man continually slips into neglecting his family.
  • A car crash victim is shown in the hospital. We are told he will probably die and he has lost both his kidneys.
  • A married couple kisses.
My Thoughts
This is the sequel to The Ultimate Gift in that it tells the continuation of Jason's story, but the prequel in that it tells Red's story.
It was a great movie but really a one-timer. I saw it twice and the second time wasn't nearly as good as the first.
Still, it has it's moments. We see Red struggling through life alone, trying to figure out how to become rich, being taught lessons by those he meets along the way. It is these lessons that he wanted to pass on to whomever would take charge of the family business one day. These are the lessons which prompted the different tasks Jason had to complete in the first movie.
Perhaps the scene that sums everything up is the one where we see Jason making his "golden list." A list of ten things he is grateful for--just from that day. Because "everybody has got at least ten."

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