A lot of “millions” is fantasy, but I thought that at least the starting point was based in truth. A quick Google search revealed that the UK actually hasn’t switched to the Euro and are still holding on to the Sterling pound. So the whole movie should be taken as fantasy, which helps forgiving some of the plot holes and improbabilities.
After the death of his wife, Ronnie (James Nesbitt) moves to a neighborhood with his two sons, leaving behind a house full of memories. Anthony (Lewis Owen McGibbon) adapts pretty quickly, but younger brother Damian (Alexander Nathan Etel) is having a harder time. He winds up spending most of his time in a clubhouse made out of empty cardboard boxes, trainspotting (!) and having conversations with saints (yeah, actual saints appear to him, aureoles and all). One day, a sports bag full of money falls out of the sky and the two boys find themselves with hundreds of thousands of quids on their hands, which they have only two weeks to spend before the currency becomes obsolete. While Anthony buys a bunch of stuff and flashes at school, Damian wants to help the poor. But a kid carrying large sums of cash tends to attract attention, even when he wants to do good with it…
This is not the first Danny Boyle flick to deal with a big bag of money, but this is the first that could be considered a children’s movie. It comes as quite a surprise and maybe a disappointment to some that he’s left violence, hard drugs and profane language behind, but Boyle’s virtuoso way with music and visual storytelling remains intact. With songs by Muse, The Clash, El Bosco and others and John Murphy’s original score (a wondrous blend of Danny Elfman, Philip Glass and Moby-style techno), the soundtrack is definitely not playing only for the tots. Likewise, the cinematography evades the common blandness of most family films, with plenty of inventive shots, clever use of CGI (love the self-building house) and a boundless camera that travels over rooms and through walls.
Unfortunately, Boyle kinda blows his load early. After an exciting and inventive candy-colored first act, “millions” slacks off stylistically and simultaneously becomes less offbeat and more plot-driven, wishy-washy and conventional. The introduction of a tuque-wearing robber scheming to get his paws on the kids’ money is a little too Home Alone for me. I would also have liked the spiritual angle to be explored in a more ambiguous and challenging manner, instead of going for something as obvious as a nativity play and a big scene at the end spelling out the movie’s message with uninspiring lateral thinking.
These things don’t ruin “millions”, but they keep it from reaching the brilliance of something like Jim Sheridan’s In America. We get a nice little fable instead, ultimately not very profound but pleasant anyway.