The Ultimate Gift

I read that a movie released March 9 called The Ultimate Gift has been dissed by MSM reviewers because it contains an anti-abortion message. So my daughter (home from college on spring break) and I went to see it this afternoon.
Plot: “When his wealthy grandfather dies, trust fund baby Jason Stevens anticipates a big inheritance. Instead, his grandfather has devised a crash course on life: 12 tasks (or “gifts”) designed to challenge Jason in improbable ways, sending him on a journey of self-discovery and forcing him to determine what is most important in life: money or happiness.” ~ Fox Family Films

Stars: James Garner, Brian Dennehy, Lee Meriwether, and young Abigail Breslin (who made this movie before attaining fame in Little Miss Sunshine); Washington Post: “well-acted by a first rate cast.”
The movie contains one pro-life line: After a single mom and love interest tells Jason she got pregnant in college, she says, “Emily… she’s the best decision I ever made.”
That’s it. For that The Ultimate Gift earned these complaints by reviewers….

“[T]here’s an anti-abortion message jammed into one scene with all the subtlety of an avalanche. Just in case you miss it, it’s repeated in the credits too. Some gift, eh?” ~ Chicago Tribune
“[T]he movie’s messages – pro-poverty, anti-abortion – are methodically hammered home.” ~ New York Times
“Apart from one not-so-subtle anti-abortion message and that the characters take time for religious worship, the film’s values are fairly well encoded into the story, such that it feels less like a sermon and more like a film with a good, if somewhat sappy, heart.” ~ Los Angeles Times

See Rotten Tomatoes for other mixed reviews, including some that are very positive.
We gave the movie 2.75 stars out of 4. It would have been a very good movie except for a short detour that had our hero captured by Equadorian drug lords.
But I can’t believe one pro-life line – eight words – so repulsed some members of MSM that they spent several times more words complaining about it.

26 thoughts on “The Ultimate Gift”

  1. Wow Jill,I see it your way.I’m seeing more and more of this in the media. Bill O’Reilly was taking a firm stand against abortion. Now all of a sudden he has become quiet.Gee, I think Fox must have said something to him. Ms.[Miserable Sinner]Magazine continued to roll the ball with their petition signing. WE HAD ABORTIONS[and claim to be proud of it]Most of these women had abortions to persue some stupid acting career. Actress Patricia Heaton came under fire when she defended life.So did Brooke Sheilds.A pro-choice woman said that she had obtained an abortion so that she would be able to have something to do with her time – school work,personal life,etc.Patricia Heaton stated that women parenting their children WAS giving them something to do with their time. Let’s not p*** off Hollyweird.However, when I went to see the movie Derailed,abortion was mentioned in the movie.What did the critics say about that??-zip-nada!

  2. I have seen the movie. I’ll be seeing it again because I want my mother to see.
    Nothing blows up. There is no nudity. The language was suitable for my six year old. Many of you probably wouldn’t like it.
    It was definitely “hallmarky”, but I love stuff like that. My six year old actually cried at one point.
    It was well made, though arguably sappy, and refreshingly uplifting. Especially compared to movies like “Saw”, “Crash” or “Babel” (some of which were fine movies, just not “feel good”)
    If the pro-choice side is all about choice, wouldn’t you think that they would applaud this woman for making a “choice”? Or does it only count if they make the “choice” to abort? Lends fuel to the argument of “pro-choice” vs “pro-abortion” though, doesn’t it?

  3. Of course we would applaud her for making the choice, MK. Because that’s different than being forced to keep a baby she didn’t want. If it was better for her to keep the baby, then good for her!
    And I never got around to replying to your stance on the pro-choice/pro-abortion thing because … well, I can get busy from time to time. But perhaps those people who were “celebrating” outside the abortion clinic when the couple went in were happy that they were not intimidated out of getting an abortion. They weren’t celebrating the abortion. Again–they were celebrating the *choice*.
    Ciao, my friend. I have an odd and deep respect for you and I don’t know why. Call it feminine intuition.

  4. Leah,
    You’re welcome as it was well deserved.
    I know that many, if not most, pro-choice people, truly are fighting for what they percieve to be best for women. So are we. But there is, there truly is,
    a faction of pro-choice people who couldn’t care less about a woman’s well being and just want this because it is a money making endeavor. Some (especially the men) are like rebels without a cause. Some just hate religion and will fight anything that smacks of it.
    I believe, because I saw the manic look in these escorts eyes, that their reasons for cheering were not altruistic. They didn’t just acknowledge that the clients had not been interfered with. They got pleasure from the fact that they had won some percieved victory (“another” couple was aborting their baby).
    The clinic I counsel at is set up so that it is very difficult to say anything to the prospective clients. But when we do occasionally get to speak, we (I’m not saying all pro-lifers always treat pro-choicers with respect…I too have seen uncomely behavior on our side) are very, very, very careful not to say anyting derrogatory or inflammatory to these women. We have discussed at great length our various ways of approaching counseling and we have all agreed that anger is a waste. These are not evil people going in to kill their children as an entertainment diversion. These are real girls, women, men and boys that are in great torment and pain. 90% of them had a very tough time making the decision to abort.
    Before the escorts came, we often waited til the girls (women) came out and would give them a rose with a pamphlet letting them know that there was counseling available to them.
    We know that more damage will be done to an already fragile girl (woman) by yelling at her or adding to her pain.
    I wish my arms were big enough to wrap around each and every one these girls (and you and alyssa and ingrid and samantha, too) and tell them that somebody cares. I’m actually crying as I write this. You are NOT alone. You are NOT hated. You are NOT disgusting. Abortion is disgusting. You are just beautiful girls making poor choices and suffering great, painful consequences.
    I pray for all of you (you have been added by name to my prayer list at the adoration chapel) not just so that you don’t have abortions, but so that you can mature in the amazing women that you show yourselves capable of becoming.
    When I listen to you guys write, I hear woman who are compassionate (although I think misguided), and soft hearted and caring. (of course you’re also ornery, fiesty and hot-headed – all characteristics I share). Each of you has wormed your way into my heart, and there you will stay.
    As to your odd and deep respect for me? Well, that isn’t the first time the word odd and my name have been used in the same sentence. As for the deep respect, the feeling is mutual.
    God be with you,

  5. I personally am appalled at these movie reviews. I think a mother’s celebrating her child’s contribution to her life is very beautiful and should not be debased into an argument for either side of this debate.

  6. I do have to agree with momof3 (not with everything she says, but specifically …) it is sad that people are not able to express their views so openly anymore. Whether pro-life or pro-choice or whatever, in America we have the freedom of expression and that is being thoroughly supressed by society.
    I never realized how censored America is until I came to France. We (in America) claim to have this “freedom of expression”, yet in France (where their freedom of expression is slightly more restricted–for example, you can get arrested for wearing a swastika), such repression is unheard of! It is very sad.
    I am SO glad you recognize that! Many people on both sides of the argument just believe that the other side is fighting for evil. But aren’t we all just fighting for what we think is right? This isn’t a children’s movie where the “bad guy” rubs his hands together to revel in the glory of his “evil plan”. In real life people fight for what they believe is truly right. Sometimes, (most of the time, even) it may appear evil to others. But it all depends on perspective.
    And I acknowledge that there is a faction of the pro-choice side that believes that. Unfortunately, I believe they will only end up hurting the pro-choice movement more than helping it, as the sexist, repressive people on the pro-life side will do for you. It is important not to take things to an extreme.
    I can also see what you’re saying about the hating religion thing. I recognize that because I’ve been there. I went through a short time in my young life where I was offended by any mention of religion. I have since found a deep spirituality within myself, and while I refuse to define a religion for myself, I do believe in God. I also believe I am doing the right thing, thus bringing this conversation full circle.
    I can have respect for those on the pro-life side who want to talk to women and try to gently dissuade them. I don’t agree with what you do, but that is your choice. What I do not and will NEVER support are the pro-lifers who stand outside of abortion clinics and scream at entering clients that they are baby killers. Most women who are having abortions are already facing a difficult decision, and shouting such horrible things will only make it worse. Have a little respect! (not to you but whoever does such things) No one is going to convince people to do or not do something by waving pictures of aborted fetuses in their face and calling them murderers. Frankly, people who do that should be ashamed.
    I do have to say, I am not suffering at all. God forbid I will ever be in the situation where I will need an abortion. If I am, I will be very happy to the option there, though.
    Haha. I call my respect for you “odd” because any deep emotion developed via internet I have to watch. Who knows what you’re really like? Who knows what *I’m* really like?
    It amazes me to find out how much we actually agree on. It’s basically the core of the issue, ie: the actual abortion question, that is the problem.
    Thanks for praying for me. I appreciate it. Also thanks for making intelligent conversation possible and not typing one-sentence sarcastic remarks. This is what makes sites like this interesting, isn’t it? It wouldn’t be very enthralling to just sit around going “abortions are bad/whatever … yeah, I agree” all day, would it?
    ps: that movie actually looks pretty cute, but I don’t think it’s out in France.

  7. I’m actually angry that these reviews came off so caustic toward the fact that a woman made a choice to keep her child. As a pro-choicer, I say “YES, GOOD FOR YOU, THAT’S YOUR CHOICE AND I’M GLAD IT WAS BEST FOR YOU!!” I would NEVER be angry about the fact that a movie highlighted the fact that keeping a child was the best choice for this woman. If either side of the abortion debate is just trying to grasp onto things that just barely “smack” of the other side, we’ll never reach common ground. I love the fact that a woman kept her baby, and that she loves it and cares for it. Samantha, I agree. This movie isn’t a grounds for this debate.
    I’ve had a friend abort and a friend keep her baby. Both made the decisions best for them, and they’re happy today. I’m glad that my (then 17-year old friend) kept her child, and I respect my other (then 17-year old) friend’s choice to abort. Neither of them made the decision they did rashly. I love them both.
    MK, if I’m ever in the Chicago area, I might take you up on the breakfast thing. :)
    Your respect and understanding are important to me, and thank you for keeping me in your prayers. *hugs* too. I’m sad that those escorts were happy about what they perceived as an imminent abortion…because that’s not “choice” at all.
    MK, rest assured that I despise that small, profit-hungry faction of pro-choicers as much as you. Pro-choice is supposed to be pro-woman, not pro-profit. Much as I despise that small group of pro-lifers who think that a woman should keep her pregnancy even if it means almost certain death to her, just so that there’s a chance that the baby she births might live. I hate how these people place a higher value on the life that is using her body to survive, over the fact that this woman is already suffering to bring it to life. That’s abominable, and sick. These people really need to examine their faith.

  8. Leah,
    You are so right. About everything that you said.
    I just have one question.
    Why do all the girls that I invited to breakfast have to live in foriegn countries? Looks like I’ll be dining alone. But France and Germany are close. Maybe you and Ingrid could share some crepes and toast me.
    au revoir
    don’t you just love the French Language?

  9. It’s just bad luck. Don’t worry, I’m only in France until July. Then it’s back to the old routine. We’ll get together for breakfast then, kay? ((wink))
    Oh, MK. Cr

  10. Alyssa,
    Yeah! You live in America…
    Breakfast it is…please tell me you eat meat?!?!?
    Now to business.
    In the Catholic faith we don’t look at it as choosing the life of the baby over the mother. Everything must be done to save both parties. If a baby must be taken early to save the mother’s life (and I mean life, not health or well being) then take the baby you can. But you must first do everything in your power to insure that the baby will get the best chance at survival as possible. Keeping it in utero for as long as possible and then doing everything scientifically possible to save it’s life after birth.
    The difference here, is the intent. There is no intention to “Kill” the baby. Death might be inevitable, but the intention is to save both lives.
    Your scenario, I agree would be intolerable. Nobodys life is greater than anybody elses. However some mothers have “chosen” to give up their lives by carrying the baby to term, even tho it cost them their lives. This is not the norm, nor is it expected. It is an act of heroic virtue. We make these people saints. It is what Jesus did for us.
    Just wanted to clear this up. The churches teachings are often misunderstood and it makes me sad. We support ALL life, the mothers and the childs. Always. No hierarchy in the “whose life is more important” debate.

  11. Jill:
    Thanks for this article. IT’S amazing how ONE simple vauge pro life line – a line that wasn’t even inflammatory or political, mind you, can arouse the hissing poison pen wrath of the MSM! I have always said that there are some very powerful forces behind the abortion industry – so powerful that I don’t even want to think about it – what they will do to keep the abortion industry going. I would not consider this movie only about abortion – it’s about life, but can you imagine if a movie was made that only delt with a pro life – anti abortion position?

  12. Mom, Et al,
    If this goes as planned, I might have to rent a hall. And a cow and a Juan Valdez…
    You’re all welcome.
    and after breadfast we can all go to mass…
    okay, okay, just kidding…can’t blame a girl for tryin’.

  13. Jeez, these people need to simmer their horses. What’s wrong with a woman deciding to keep her baby? It’s her freaking CHOICE. My goodness. This is why I never listen to critics. They’re always really wrong.
    Every movie I’ve loved, they say sucks, and every movie I hate they love.
    Everyone needs to just go watch movies for themself and form their own opinion.

  14. I just wanted to say that a lot of my favorite actresses are pro-choice.I was a bit shocked and surprised that one actress remarked that “Fighting to keep Partial Birth abortion is fun” And “Sex without consequences is cool” I doubt that the majority of you pro choicers even agree with this approach.This woman’s mother is pro-life.They are both famous.Needless to say,I lost respect for her.Personally,I don’t find anything cool or fun about it.

  15. I also wanted to add;Hollywood sells what? Answer;sex. Sex sells.I believe that this is the reason for a lot of Hollywood stars being pro choice.I really don’t have anything more to add. Just putting it out there for discussion/debate.

  16. My class was cancelled! God bless the French school system.
    What I think is really unique is how this particular topic we all seem to agree on, yet such an interesting discussion can take place. In most things where everyone agrees, it just gets boring.
    My one comment is about the quoting of whoever said that fighting for partial-birth abortions was fun. I think too much may have been read into that comment. Some people (most people, even) enjoy fighting what they’re fighting for. As I explained to a friend of mine from the country (Alberta–he lives on a farm when he isn’t in France), “City people need causes. We don’t have a farm to occupy our time, so we fight for something that we believe in.” He failed to understand, but there’s Canadians for you. (I’m kidding!!! I love Canadians!)
    Although, yeah … the wording of this actress was kind of careless. I think I would have phrased it differently. She just made it sound like a hobby … like shopping. Not quite the same thing.
    Someone just emailed me … I must go see who it was …

  17. To MK, yes, I do eat meat. mmmm. I live in Pennsylvania though…and I’m a college freshman without a car. lol.

  18. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the people who wrote those reviews were not knowledgable about either side of the abortion debate… I think they just wanted to throw in the word abortion because it grabs the attention of people on both sides. Because honestly, anyone with even a *slight* background in abortion politics would recognize that:
    1. Most Pro Lifers are smart enough to know that their entire cause isn’t going to be vindicated because of ONE line in a movie, and
    2. Most intelligent Pro Choicers don’t think that there is anything wrong with a woman CHOOSING to keep her baby and being HAPPY with her choice.
    Its a MOVIE for gods sake. I think sometimes people who review movies for a living get a little carried away and try to inject some sort of political significance in to their job – when it isnt and shouldnt be there.

  19. What I find amazing (OOHHH another good movie, Amazing Grace) is that these same reviewers would probably love movies with a ton of violence, a ton of sex and a ton questionable language. So when a movie comes along that doesn’t have any of this they don’t know what to do with it. I love movies. I see at least a movie a week. I often go alone, just because I need a fix.
    I have sat through some pretty awful stuff that a reviewer claimed I would probably like and I sort of resent that I’m being made to feel silly for seriously loving this movie.
    There is a place for darkness in movies. But, nobody questioned the motives of the director that made “Pulp Fiction”, or all those creepy “ring” movies. So why now? Why, when a movie can actually hold your attention without decapitating anyone, do they need to start crying hidden agenda?
    I mean, really, does anybody think that the guy that made the Hannibal Lechter movies was promoting cannibalism.
    I agree, it’s just a movie. And if the director was pro-life, so what? It’s a form of artistic expression. And if the director wasn’t pro-life but inadvertantly sent out a message that life was precious, so what? For that matter what about “Vera Drake”, or “Cider House Rules” with Michael Caine. Where was the outcry then?
    Sometimes I think political correctness is going to smother us…

  20. MK,
    I hated Pulp Fiction. Had to analyze it for a college course. Worst movie in history.
    The Ring. Not creepy. I hate horror movies and it didn’t even scare me. The manga books are better (which is what the movies are based on). The original Japanese are even less eventful than the American version.
    The Hannible Lecter movies are also based on books.
    And it’s not necessarily true that critics give violent movies good reviews. V for Vendetta got HORRIBLE reviews. They actually criticized it for violence (when there was very little in the movie at all). (V was also based on a graphic novel.)
    I think recently the 300 (also based on a graphic novel) also got bad reviews from the critics, but I’m not sure.
    Critics are just people trying to make living off of complaining about things, in my view. I stopped listening to them a looong time ago.

  21. Danielle,
    Too true. But I was really just pointing out that violence doesn’t bother them but mention pro-life and grown men and women get more afraid than watching the exorcist…lol

  22. MK,
    I think that it’s because in our culture we’ve been so ingrained with violence. I mean, even just turn on the news and what do you see? War, murder, rape. When you see something everyday it’s very easy for it to become just another part of your day that you don’t blink at.
    I definitely think that these critics are reaching based on what Jill provided (I have not seen the movie). They obviously don’t have a clear understanding of the issue and are just trying to stir up conversation.
    I see nothing wrong with the fact that the woman kept the child and thinks the pregnancy was the best thing that happened to her. It’s wonderful! And that’s exactly what choice is about. Making a decision for yourself about what to do. If you want to keep the child, do so! If you want to have an abortion, do so. No one should tell you it’s wrong for keeping the child, putting the child up for adoption, or having an abortion.

  23. This movie seems very interesting to me, but unfortunately I haven’t heard great things about the movie. Reading all of the posts on this site it seems that many people have gotten several different things from it. I’m gonna stick to the advice of Ebert and Roeper on this one, they always provide the best reviews for current and upcoming films. You should check them out @, I get the inside scoop because I work with Ebert and Roeper.

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