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Millions (2004)

Can anyone be truly good?

Directed by:

Danny Boyle

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 97 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12a

Country: United Kingdom, United States

What would you do if a whopping great bag of cash suddenly came into your possession? Travel the world? Stock up on all the latest gadgets and gizmos for a brand new house? Invest? Give it all to charity? Blow the lot on liquor and loose women? Tell me! Tell me now!! But, while you’re thinking about your answer, allow me to fill you in on ‘Millions’, the first film from Manc director Danny Boyle since 2002’s popular horror yarn 28 Days Later….

It stars 10-year-old newcomer Alex Etel as Damien, a dreamy-eyed Manchester ankle-biter who’s out playing one day when he discovers exactly £229,320 in cash (so not actually “Millions” at all then, but I’m happy to let that point slide if you are). Taking the sagely advice of slightly-older brother Anthony (Lewis Owen McGibbon), he decides to keep it a secret from widowed dad Ronnie (James Nesbitt) – but what should be the next move? Damien’s idea, somewhat disappointingly, is to “give it to the poor” – a nice thought, but who are the poor, how do you find them, what got them into that position and how do you know they even deserve it in the first place? Add to this the fact that there’s only a week to go until the UK converts from Pounds Sterling to the Euro (hence rendering the stash useless), and our do-gooding sprog is left with something of a logistical nightmare.

‘Millions’ is a really enjoyable little piece of whimsy with a lot going for it. The story, by 24 Hour Party People writer Frank Cottrell Boyce, is fun enough to make its several plot holes seem unimportant. Boyle, meanwhile, is a shrewd director and he uses the film’s limited budget wisely, throwing in some nice touches including a great opening CGI sequence showing new houses springing up from the ground in seconds. Perhaps the thing I’ll remember the most about it, though, is the performance from young Etel. He delivers a sound, natural performance, never looking uncomfortable on-screen and managing to come across as sweet without becoming sickly.

Disappointingly, it’s a little tough to enter entirely into the spirit of the film – and the blame for that has to lie squarely on the shoulders of the distributors. This is clearly a Christmas flick, but its May release makes it seem out-of-place in theatres and means it’s not really as heart-warming as it’s supposed to be. Here’s hoping that, when it’s finally time for it to be shown on the small screen, the schedulers get it right and show it in a daytime slot during the festive period: because, despite its somewhat inexplicable 12A UK certificate, this is a film that can be easily enjoyed by the whole family.

It's Got: Cash Jenga! You know you’re getting a bit flash when you start playing that.

It Needs: A high interest account.

Alternatives:

Brewster's Millions

Summary

More money, more problems in this charming family feel-good flick.

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