In many of the reviews for Millions, critics have discussed how director Danny Boyle has departed from his usual violent, bloody, adult fair into a whimsical children’s story. It is a fair discussion since Boyle’s other work include stories of greed and murder, heroin addiction, and a modern take on the zombie movie (and yes I know the villains in 28 Days Later weren’t technically zombies, they were infected. But if you look like a zombie, eat flesh like a zombie, and smell like a zombie, then you’re a zombie in my book).
That’s a far cry from your normal kids' flick.
Upon closer look at this film, Boyle has not stretched that far from his normal themes than you might suspect. He is still dealing with greed, the darkness of the human soul, and the things that make us human, only in a manner more childlike and full of wonder than usual.
The story involves two young brothers, Damian (Alexander Nathan Etel) and Anthony (Lewis Owen McGibbon), who chance upon a bag full of British Pounds, when it literally falls from the sky and onto Damian’s playhouse. The boys must quickly spend the money for Britain is only days away from converting to the Euro, thus making the Pound worthless.
Boyle creates a fantasy world that is effervescent and joyous. It is a joyful film that is alive with buoyant colors and so unique in its ability to remain enjoyable to children as well as adults as to render it uncommon in today’s everything must be a blockbuster world.
The two brothers differ greatly in how they see fit to spend the money. Anthony, being a bit older and perhaps more world wise, spends it at his new school bribing his classmates into a kind of mini-mafia, purchases the coolest new toys for tikes, and looks to invest in real estate to parlay his fortune a little farther.
Damian is something of a dreamer and often is visited by famous saints such as St. Peter and St. Francis of Assisi. The saints point Damian to a different road where the money can be put to better use than selfish gain. So he sets about giving the money to a homeless man, a group of Mormons, and other charitable organizations — much to the chagrin of Anthony.
This sets up the moral of the tale, where nearly everyone is affected by greed. The boy’s father finds himself trying to spend the money even after he has learned it is stolen property. Boyle tends to wear his morals on his sleeve a bit too much — especially at the end — but it is told with such jubilation it is hard to knock him for it.
It is a lovely family film, one that is well made and neither panders to the kids, nor is too insipid for adults.