Fox Searchlight Pictures | Release Date: March 11, 2005
8.5
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Universal acclaim based on 63 Ratings
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SpangleApr 24, 2017
A truly odd entry into Danny Boyle's eclectic filmography, Millions is a family film with a morality tale wrapped up in a nice little package. While nothing extraordinary, it is still undeniably wholesome entertainment for Catholic familiesA truly odd entry into Danny Boyle's eclectic filmography, Millions is a family film with a morality tale wrapped up in a nice little package. While nothing extraordinary, it is still undeniably wholesome entertainment for Catholic families with younger children. For others, it is can often become an overly sentimental and sweet film with a clear moral it wants to pound into your skull until you finally get it. Unfortunately, one would have to be entirely dim to miss the message due to the film's incessant repetition and moral grand standing. Quite quickly, its inherent cuteness with a nice message becomes rather grating and far too repetitive. Even worse, its main child actor is far too annoying to actually make us root for him to do the right thing due to his portrayal as a "goodie two shoes" of sorts. As a whole, Millions is not Boyle's best work, but it is nice enough.

Millions is a tale of a young boy who finds a bag full of money. Unfortunately, it is pounds and needs to be dispensed with before Britain moves to the euro. Even worse, it was stolen by a band of robbers from a train where the money was being sent to be destroyed. Not only are the robbers on their way to get the money, but the fact that it is stolen money ruins everything for young Damian (Alex Etel). His brother Anthony (Lewis McGibbon) wants to keep it and spend it freely. Damian, meanwhile, wants to give it to the poor due to his obsession with Catholic saints and a wish to see his mother Maureen (Jane Hogarth) in heaven one day due to his good deeds. Yet, he quickly learns how much it complicates everything. Money does not always buy happiness and it only leads everyone around him to start hiding some money for themselves. Anthony stashes some away. His dad Ronald (James Nesbitt) stashes some away. His dad's new girlfriend Dorothy (Daisy Donovan) stashes some away. All the while, one of the robbers stalks the family and breaks in looking for the money. The cash must go and Damian is determined to get rid of it to make everything easier.

Showing Damian speaking to various saints or disciples along the way, the film has a very obvious Catholic tilt to its anti-money preaching as it shows the corruption of good people via greed. However, its overly preachy method of telling its moral tale is only worsened by how annoying Damian is throughout. Just keep the money and spend it, kid. It is stolen, yes, but it will be burned otherwise. It is not bad to spend this money. Yet, he is a small child with a naive worldview and has a narrow focus on how things should be. When things go wrong, he immediately freaks out and sets out to make them right. He is also a major snitch telling everybody everything and not understanding the art of subtlety until, of course, a robber tells him that he will back for the money and Damian stays mum on the subject. For a kid that never shuts up about helping the poor and trumpeting his moral superiority compared to everyone else, he really seems quite cool with this guy threatening to hurt his family. The central character's youth and annoyingly chipper good nature may be too much for my inherent cynicism, but will certainly appeal to some. Unfortunately, I just found myself wanting the film to end because the kid was so obnoxiously moral and confused by things that did not help the poor. It is nice to donate a lot of the found money to the poor, make no mistake. However, that does not mean you cannot use it help get your family out of debt or to just treat yourself a bit. You will not go to hell for spending money, no matter what this film tells you.

Still utilizing his trademark kinetic style with grainy footage, random oblique angles, and quick cuts, Millions is an incredibly stylish film that merely glosses up its relatively safe story. Playing like a Sunday school special with better direction and style, but the same overly straight laced characters with a simplistic message: money is bad and corrupts everything it touches. Unfortunately, we do need money. Money is nice because it lets you eat and have a home. Donating and volunteer work is admirable, of course, and something people should indulge in. However, Boyle's film too quickly resorts to that being the only meaningful way of spending money and if it does not go to the poor or to some village in Ethiopia, it is not worth having the money. It is quite naive and simplistic with a far too neat and childish approach to its themes regarding greed and money's place in the world.
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6
MovieMasterEddyApr 3, 2016
A contempo Christmas fairy tale for the CGI generation, Brit director Danny Boyle's "Millions" maintains a bankable charm and innocence even when overdrawn on the special effects side. Sparky but essentially small movie could do reasonableA contempo Christmas fairy tale for the CGI generation, Brit director Danny Boyle's "Millions" maintains a bankable charm and innocence even when overdrawn on the special effects side. Sparky but essentially small movie could do reasonable numbers with a wide swathe of auds if positioned clear of heavyweight crowd-pleasers.

Set before Christmas but shot in summery locations, pic’s unreal atmosphere is underlined from the start as two brothers, 9-year-old Anthony (Lewis McGibbon) and 7-year-old Damien (Alex Etel, in pic’s casting coup), move to a brand new housing development on the edge of Liverpool following the death of their mom (Jane Hogarth, only seen at end). In an orgy of exhilarating CGI, similar to the start of Li Shaohong’s Beijing-set “Baober in Love,” the houses literally spring up around the kids as they celebrate the beginning of a new life with their father, Ronnie (James Nesbitt), and away from the grim inner city.

While Anthony is a savvy mathematician with a businessboy’s brain, Damien is a dreamer fixated on saints, miracles and the world of imagination. Damien is building a hideaway out of packing boxes near the railroad — and hosting his first “guest,” a joint-smoking St. Clare (Kathryn Pogson) — when a bag stuffed with banknotes arrives through the air.

For the naive Damien, it’s a miracle from God. For the practical Anthony, it’s a £229,320 ($411,662) windfall that could be taxed at 40% if they declare it. Both agree to keep it a secret, though when St. Francis of Assisi (Enzo Cilenti) appears to Damien and tells him to help the poor, the kids find that easier said than done.

After this powerhouse opening half-hour, pic momentarily turns a little darker as a sinister-looking pauper (Christopher Fulford) turns up at Damien’s hideaway demanding money. Anthony’s presence of mind gets them out of that tangle, but there’s no escaping a looming bigger problem: Blighty is finally about to join the Euro (film is set in an imaginary near future) and in little more than a week’s time the sterling is going to be as worthless as Monopoly money.

Soon, a chipper young charity worker, Dorothy (Daisy Donovan), starts taking an interest in father Ronnie and — to the boys’ minds — the money, which turns out to be have been dumped from a train by bank robbers. All that’s left is to somehow spend the loot, but the police have already been alerted and the pauper is again hot on their trail.

After the early stages, film fortunately goes easier on the visual effects and concentrates more on character and story-telling, with scripter Frank Cottrell Boyce (a regular collaborator with Michael Winterbottom, and one of the U.K.’s most imaginative writers) keeping the thin plot alive with setbacks and left turns. Ending is simple and briefly affecting, with the moral of the tale (“money just makes everything worse”) spelled out but in lower case.

Dialogue by the kids has a slightly out-there, proto-adult flavor that’s handled with great assurance by both McGibbon and the younger Etel, with the latter practically stealing the film with his northern English blend of earthy cute.

Other roles are equally carefully calibrated to maintain the movie’s irreal atmosphere, with the adults, as in all fairytales, having a simple, one-dimensional flavor (upbeat Dorothy, kindly Ronnie, scary pauper) that keeps the emotional focus tightly on the youngsters. Nesbitt and Donovan are excellent in this regard, and Pearce Quigley, as a bureaucratic-speak community cop, stands out among the adult supports.

Tech package is aces at all levels, with key talent drawn from Boyle’s “28 Days Later” and his prior BBC telepics (“Strumpet,” “Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise,” whose antsy style “Millions” often recalls). Danish lenser Anthony Dod Mantle, who also worked on a slew of Dogme movies, creates a semi-magical, semi-realistic landscape of heightened colors and summery hues, in tandem with production design by Mark Tildesley, also a regular Winterbottom collaborator . John Murphy’s score keeps the movie at a brisk pace, in tandem with Chris Gill’s crisp cutting.
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