Danny Boyle’s “fable” about two kids in an English town whose lives are, literally, crashed in on by a bag full of stolen money is about as bad as it can get. It’s movies like Millions (written by Frank Cottrell Boyce, the same writer who perpetrated Code 46 from last year) that need to be horsewhipped till all the grossly, offensively wrong things about them can be laid bare and bleeding for all to see.
Then, again, if you’re a sucker for adorable, freckle-faced kids, you may not be able to resist the infantile wiles of this movie. The central character of Millions is Damian, the younger of two brothers. He’s a sweet kid whose adoration of saints and God and whatnot is further warped by the death of the boys’ mother. I have no idea the connection between wanting to be saintly and the kid’s trauma over losing their mother, about whom we glean very little; you’d have to ask Mr. Boyce. When the boys chance upon the money, Damian just wants to give it away to everybody, and he does so over and over again, willfully, stupidly. This pattern repeats often enough that, as oh-so-cute as Damian is, we in the audience just want to slap some sense into him. The blame is mainly on Boyce and Boyle, not Etel–the kid’s only following directions. The filmmakers hit the same notes of golly-gee moral innocence over and over again because (a) they have no idea what else to do with Damian and (b) they simply lack the storytelling acumen for the kind of deep character development that movies of moral consequence demand. Boyce is just an incompetent storyteller and Boyle–who can’t find any footing in this material–busies himself with his trademark cinematic gimmickry (flashy cutting, sound effects and camerawork).
The movie is a grievous collision of tones: Boyle wants to make any edgy “children’s story” laced with elements of the thriller (which we get in heavy doses once the criminal looking for the money makes his appearance and proceeds to terrorize Damian into returning the loot) but the results are absolutely horrendous: saccharine and heavily contrived, thanks also to the movie’s heinous plotting which shunts us from sweet to scary with no greater reason or purpose beyond the cheap and immediate needs of the material. And why bother with the whole subplot about the Pound-to-Euro conversion? Frankly, who cares?! It lends absolutely no suspense to the material. Rather, it feels labored and tacked-on, and, more than anything, the product of a bunch of filmmakers with piss-poor instincts and little clue how to thematically streamline their material.
The movie’s final minutes are the ultimate indication of how insulting it is as the brothers, their sappy dad and his new girlfriend descend on a poor African village where we find they’ve put their money towards building a well. Wow! The good that a bunch of white people can do for a bunch of suffering black people! It’s as easy as that! Honestly, Millions left me wanting to wash my mouth out with soap, and then take a bath dowsed in antiseptic. This is awful, God-awful garbage that, under no circumstances, should we–as educated and informed citizens (to whom this dreck is targeted)–have to tolerate. Do NOT support simple-minded cretins trying to make “smart” movies! Now where is my copy of 28 Days Later?
Directed by: Danny Boyle
Written by: Frank Cottrell Boyce
Cast: Alexander Nathan Etel, Lewis Owen McGibbon, James Nesbitt