Millions has a great shot at being the top family film of the year. Considering it’s only March, that says something. Not only is it a great family film, it is a great film about faith and about caring for the world around us.
Brothers Damian and Anthony have just moved to a new subdivision with their widowed father. Anthony has figured out that he can milk his mother’s death for sympathy and free stuff. It seems that he should be able to capitalize on his grief in some way. He is always looking to get more.
Damian is having a harder time dealing with his loss. After the move, he has built a fort – or perhaps it’s a hermitage – out of some boxes next to the railroad tracks. He sits out there and reads about the saints, and they begin to appear to him and talk with him. He always asks the saints if they have met St. Maureen. He’s trying to confirm that his mother is in heaven. The saints are always noncommittal.
One day while out in his boxes, a duffle bag full of money comes crashing into his fort. Damian sees it as a gift from God and is determined to use it wisely to do what God would want. He knows he needs to share it with the poor, but doesn’t really know anyone who is poor.
Anthony, on the other hand, wants to use the money to gain the maximum return. His first act is to "buy" a posse. The promise of money gets him a whole entourage of friends who do things for him. He considers buying a couple of houses that will appreciate and bring them even more money.
But there's a problem: In less than two weeks, the money will be worthless as the currency changes to Euros. Everything has to be spent or invested before that date.
Of course, before long, a bad guy comes looking for the money. (He was the one who tossed it off the train.) So there is a sense of danger that has to be dealt with as the story works its way to its conclusion.
The story has a nice blend of humor and seriousness that should make it enjoyable for the whole family. Some of the British accents may take a few minutes to get used to, but the dialogue is still fairly easy to understand.
Millions is an opportunity for us to consider issues such as whether the things we have are gifts from God. Is Damian right that God sent him the money? Was it just an accident? How does our use of money change if we understand it as a gift from God versus our own possession?
Anthony and Damian both live within us all. We want to use the wealth we have to make our lives better. But we also know that we have responsibilities to others that we can meet through the use of our wealth. We constantly struggle to try to balance these two desires.
What about the role our faith plays in our grief? Damian knew his mother must be in heaven, but how could he be sure? Damian has great faith. He seems to know all the saints and their stories. He wants to do good, to be like them. He knows, as we all do, that they are models for life. His mother’s death has made this all the more important to him.
As I said, this is a family film, not a kid’s film. This is the kind of film that parents should take children to see and then spend time afterwards discussing what they watched. Perhaps you can talk about how to spend money. Perhaps you can discuss what it means that heaven is involved in this world. Add to that discussion the lives of people who have been virtuous and exemplary – the saints who have informed our lives.
Maybe you’ll even be moved to find a charity to share some of you money or, better, yourselves with. (The film makes reference to the British charity WaterAid. You may be interested in their work, or you might find something in your own community.) The film’s website also has a ”good deeds calendar” (.pdf file) that might help develop ideas of how to do things for others.
Millions has the potential not only to entertain but to actually bring goodness into the world, making it one of the rarest of movie gems in the vein of Pay It Forward and The Miracle of the Cards.