Millions (2005)

Posted by on Dec 20, 2011 in Just My Imagination | 0 comments

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Disclaimer: Gratuitous displays of greed and Catholicism, not to mention children internet surfing to find images of women in lingerie.

For almost any adult I’ve ever met, one of the most exciting days as a kid was the day a new refrigerator, television, washer, or dryer came to the house. While the parents oggled at the new features of the appliance, the kids jumped inside the larger-than-life box to admire even better features of a spaceship, skyscraper, or time machine. And anyone who once flew in a spaceship disguised as a large refrigerator box needs to see this genuinely imaginative and touching British movie.

Though it follows two brothers Millions2after their mom dies, the film really is a tale from 7-year-old Damian’s (Alex Etel) point of view. The story begins when Damian, his 9-year-old brother Anthony (Lewis McGibbon), and their father (James Nesbitt) move into a new home. One day, Damian heads out to a cardboard fort near the railroad tracks and accidentally acquires a large bag of cash that a bank robber misplaced. Damian, who felt it was a gift from God, wants to give it to the poor; while the ruthless Anthony (who feels like a young version of Michael Douglas’ character in Wall Street) wants to spend it himself.

“You can’t tell anyone because the government would take away 40 percent,” Anthony advises his brother. “Do you know how much that is? Practically all of it.”

The boys successfully keep it under wraps, other than some schoolmates who in turn become Anthony’s slaves, until one of the robbers comes back for the payout. After their father gets involved, because their house is burgled, it becomes a mad dash to spend or convert the cash before Britain makes the switch to Euros (which it never did in reality).

Director Danny Boyle (who turned from drug addicts in Trainspotting to zombies in 28 Days Later before landing this one and moving on to Slumdog Millionaire) edits the film brilliantly to seem as if material came directly out of Damian’s brain. At times the film jumps rapidly from one thing to another and makes things hard to follow (not to mention some thick British accents), but we get the idea because, like the main characters, we know what it’s like to be kids. What could have just as easily been a blockbuster heist film, which is reduced to a three-minute montage, is instead a touching and humanized switch to a children’s film. The spending scenes are rather funny as Damian invites a group of homeless people to Pizza Hut and Anthony takes real estate tours, to name a few. The adults aren’t exactly the most intelligent specimens (e.g. the police) and the boys continually use them to their advantage.

More than anything, it’s a film about the relationships between faith and innocence, age, and imagination. As a saintly character says, “The money helps to hide what’s really important.” While the message occasionally gets sidetracked, it’s still a refreshingly original flick that takes an inside-out view of one child’s rare imagination.

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