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Millions Not Worth A Dime


By Adam Thomas

Friday April 8, 2005

Please don’t make a movie if you’ve just discovered religion. And why Danny Boyle’s latest offering, if you can call it that, is ridiculously called Millions is a mystery to me. The film is a trite childhood fantasy about two young English boys who discover a big bag of money. The premise, on paper looks good. Two boys living with their father, recovering from the death of their mother discover a big bag of money. Okay, run with it. Set in Britain against the economic changeover from pounds to euros, the film follows the boys as they attempt to live large and do good with their new found wealth. Anthony, the older brother buys everything he wants and Damian, the younger brother keeps handing out fists of cash to anyone he thinks is poor. As it turns out the bag of money is part of a giant money heist, orchestrated by some soccer hooligans that had them steal a money train and travel the line launching bags of cash from the train to be picked up by thugs along the route. Except one thug never got his bag of money. The plot is set. Yeah right. Damian has a thing for imagining conversations with dead saints, and is constantly looking for signs from God. The bag of money, he thought, was such a sign. Oops. As the boys try to hide the fact they have all this loot, Damian’s innocent ways bring trouble closer as he hands out rolls of thousands to the poor and to charities in Africa. In the mean time their father, trying to keep his chin up, eventually meets a woman that sends ripples of resentment through his family. All this sounds better than it is.

The religious overtones, personified by the appearance of dead saints sporting computer-generated halos is lame and obvious, and worse, the miraculous apparitions never even offer any good advice. The purpose of Damian’s relationship with the saints is to establish that he has a greater moral capacity, a saintly capacity if you will, than even the adults in the film, who when they discover the money decide that they should use it for their own happiness. It is Damian’s naïve and innocent outlook that allow him access to the spiritual truth. But on screen these connections come across as sanctimonious preaching’s on the beauty of untainted youth. The blatant moral objective in this film is to demonstrate how futile and worthless money is if you don’t have love, and how capitalism can make monsters of us all. Thanks for the heads up Danny Boyle, go back to that pristine beach in Thailand you and your movie crew ransacked (while filming The Beach) and tell us something new.

Using the social and economic background of Britain giving up its financial sovereignty by exchanging the pound for the common euro is interesting, but it plays out like a failed social apocalypse much like the Y2K scare. Ultimately it ends up as a big “so what?” So everyone has to use their old money or change it over before a deadline or it’s useless. Big deal. Insert irrelevant conflict point here. Now there are a couple of nice moments like when Damien can’t sleep and wakes his father up, who is sleeping with a group of pillows that occupy the place of his dead wife, and the honest and playful childhood construction of a cardboard box fort, to which I can personally relate, but by the end of this tedious and didactic piece of hogwash, I was stunned when the box fort shot into the sky like a rocket and landed…in Africa. Especially ridiculously heartwarming is when the whole gang climb out to participate in what should be a two minute slow motion Benetton commercial, that has them meeting an African village as the villagers get their new water well running. Please. Go back to making movies about junkies rather than movies that are junk.