Gifted – An Old Formula That Works

Dennis Bailey Dennis Bailey

By Dennis Bailey @dbaileyauthor

Because of a dearth of new faith-based movies, I am expanding the scope of these reviews to include both spiritual and non-spiritual titles. But fear not, anything reviewed on this blog will always remain family-friendly. Today’s feature, FilmNation Entertainment’s Gifted.

Chris Evans plays Frank Adler, a former college professor turned boat mechanic living in a small town near Tampa, Florida with his seven-year-old niece, Mary (Mckenna Grace), a mathematics prodigy. Following her first day of school, where it becomes obvious she doesn’t belong there, Mary is offered a scholarship at a prestigious private institution. But, when Frank turns down the scholarship so that Mary can experience something of a “normal” childhood, his mother, played by Lindsay Duncan, initiates a custody battle that ignites the film’s primary conflict. What follows is a dynamic, and often contentious, tug-of-war between mother and son as each vies for the girl’s soul.

Miss Grace is quite engaging as Mary, displaying a combination of charm and an acerbic wit that keeps her character from becoming overly sympathetic. Ms. Duncan plays Frank’s stuffy English mother, Evelyn, a Cruella de Vil imitation the audience begins rooting against almost immediately. Finally, it was good to see a bearded Chris Evans take on a different role, playing against type from some of his more famous superhero parts (Captain America, The Fantastic Four). His performance as Mary’s de facto father is inspiring and touching. In a fitting twist of irony, I believe he ends up being a bigger hero here than in any of his big budget characterizations. Saving the whole world may win him bigger applause, but saving the future of one little girl will win him more hearts.

The film is rated PG-13 for some salty language and a brief implied sexual situation, but other than that the movie is a better than average family film which my wife and I both enjoyed.

For its ability to reach the audience on an emotional level, the movie earns four out of five projectors.