Release Date: April 1, 2005
Rating: PG (for thematic elements, language, some peril and mild sensuality)
Genre: Drama/Family
Run Time: 95 min.
Director: Danny Boyle
Actors: Alex Eitel, Lewis McGibbon, James Nesbitt, Daisy Donovan and Christopher Fulford

Damian and Alex Cunningham (Alex Eitel and Lewis McGibbon) may have lost their mother, but they know exactly how to turn that tragic fact into treasure.  “Our mum died,” they mumble, whenever they want to stay up late, eat junk food or just get their way.  Alex, 9, is the more savvy of the two brothers, while Damian, 7, is obsessed with church history – particularly the saints.  So when a duffle bag full of money comes flying out off a passing train near their home, it’s not surprising that Damian assumes the money is from God and begins doling it out.  After all, he sees himself as a bit of a saint too, and there are an awful lot of people who insist that they are poor, as soon as they realize Damian is loaded.  Alex, on the other hand, sees great personal opportunity with the money, and sets himself up with bike rides to school and four sunglass-wearing “bodyguards.”

Not surprisingly, however, it isn’t long before someone shows up looking for the cash – and it isn’t the most friendly-looking guy on the planet.  After all, it’s 2007, the eve of England’s national currency conversion, and everyone has mere days to exchange their Pounds Sterling for Euros.  This duffle bag of pounds, which was destined for destruction, instead found itself in the hands of thieves who now want their money back.  And thanks to Damian’s loose lips and unthinking generosity, they’re led straight to the Cunningham residence.  The only problem is, much of the cash has already been spent.

“Millions” is an interesting detour for director Danny Boyle, who is best known for his widely successful adult films, “28 Days Later,” “The Beach” and  “Trainspotting.”  Clearly aimed at a family audience, “Millions” offers a thoughtful message about the destructive power of money.  It demonstrates how the love of money corrupts even those with the best intentions, causing them to forsake conscience for greed. Not content to simply give us a negative message, however, as many films do, “Millions” also offers a way out.  Redemption, it tells us, comes not when we hoard money, but when we give it away, to those who are truly in need.

It’s a wonderful message presented within a strong, cohesive narrative that is alternately funny and suspenseful.  Boyle does an excellent job, having coaxed compelling performances from his two child actors.  Eitel, who makes his screen debut in this film, is particularly winsome with his wholesome goodness, especially when he meets the various saints he admires and asks them for advice.  Screen veteran James Nesbitt gives an interesting performance as the boys' father, a man who knows right from wrong and insists on taking the money to the police station – until he sees exactly how much cash is involved.  Likewise, Daisy Donovan is credible as Dorothy, the non-profit director of a national charity who charms her way into the boys' lives through their father.  Also outstanding is the film’s cinematography with its vivid greens, blues and reds that appear to jump off the screen.

Unfortunately, the film contains some wholly unnecessary additions that are likely to upset Christians. One of the female saints, conjured through Damian’s active imagination, smokes a joint with the boy while dispensing wisdom (although the drug is not obvious).  Saint Peter uses the profanity, “for Christ’s sakes,” then goes on to explain that the miracle of the loaves and fish was not a miracle at all.  With no lack of superiority for those who believe otherwise, he insists everyone in that hillside crowd just happened to have plenty of fish and bread in their pockets for lunch, but were too polite to say so.  So all 5,000 people, Peter says, “pretended” to take some fish from the basket, then passed it on.