Chris Evans shines as a man who was tasked to raise his sister’s kid after her passing. Her name is Mary, played by McKenna Grace, who just also happens to be a math prodigy. In an attempt to give Mary a normal life, Frank (Chris Evans) sends her to public school to socialize with kids her own age but her intelligence is noticed and that is when all the attention is on her to embrace this gift which turns into a custody battle between Frank and his mother Evelyn (Lindsey Duncan) that ask the question: “Which is more important, living up to your full potential or living life by your own standards?”
If you need a break from all the comic book action movies, animated films, and historic retellings; Gifted is the movie for you to watch a drama that works based on the chemistry of the actors. The relationships that are depicted in this film are great to watch. The conflicts between Mother and Son, the fun and connected relationship between an uncle and niece, the great friendship where age has no bounds between neighbors are all enjoyable and entertaining to watch.
What I liked about this film is that I was reminded that Chris Evans is more than just a guy in an American flag outfit punching his way through things for 2 hours. He can act. I have seen it just not in a while. Not to mention he makes a hot DILF. That is another post. Here he gives a nice performance of a man struggling to having a life of his own while taking care of his niece which is not a burden to him because there is so much love for this little girl. You can see the bond between Evans and Grace in their scenes together as if they are related in real life.
McKenna Grace which by her look and age will remind you of the witty and cunning Dakota Fanning when she played a girl who is too smart for her own age in I Am Sam. However, her performance reminded me of a young Natalie Portman in Leon: The Professional because they were both basically smart asses the whole time and could hold their own when the camera was on them. Grace did a wonderful job playing someone who can act like an adult but still remind us that she is just a little girl figuring out life. Her character is so innocent but knowledgeable of the world around her. She loves life and plans to enjoy it anyway she can. Along for the ride is Oscar winner Octavia Spenser whose only connection is that she helps from time to time as a close neighbor and friend to the lead. Her mother instinct and don’t hold back attitude comes in handy for a little bit of comic relief and somewhat voice of reasoning throughout the movie.
Director Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-man, 500 Day of Summer) and write Tom Flynn did a wonderful job catching small and simple moments in everyday life and turned them into moments that weren’t mediocre or basic. The setting of a rustic sort of rundown rural area in Florida made it look almost loveable to be in. There is a scene where Frank and Mary take a break from responsibilities and just go for a walk together. They have this small and random conversation about God while watching the sunset. Probably one of the best scenes from the movie and with so little said spoke very loud to the point of the film. Curiosity, wonder, protection, playfulness, probably more than that and the shot of the sunset in the back with their silhouette was beautifully shot.
This was a case of Logic Vs. Heart
With a little bit of laughs and fun watching them both go back and forth the drama was not missing from the film. This turns a little bit until a court drama and you watch emotions sour and you start to question which side you are on. There was definitely an underdog moment between the uptight mother from England with the lawyer to match vs. the boat mechanic rugged father figure with barely any money and a town lawyer played by Glenn Plummer(Speed, Showgirls) whose methods in council seemed more like a friend is helping him rather than a hired lawyer.
This was a case of Logic Vs. Heart. For the best interest of the child, is it better to deprive someone of a “normal” life and childhood or unlock the great potential they have stored in them to possibly change the world or reach the highest height they can reach. You see it a lot in child prodigies or even child actors. They utilize their wonderful gift but miss out on rites of passage as a child and forced to grow up faster than planned. I think watching that play out on screen was interesting enough for an hour and forty-one minute movie. The only critique i have about this movie is that somewhere along the line someone still said that there has to be some kind of potential relationship or love interest in the movie otherwise it doesn’t work.” I really hate forced connections and as the movie ended, I still didn’t understand why there had to be one. The teacher in Mary’s class, Bonnie, played by former SNL star Jenny Slate, is the one who discovers this gifted child while teaching math and has a connection with Frank’s character. Her irresponsible actions and forced entry throughout the movie just seemed wasteful because the other relationships shown in the movie not only took precedent but were more interesting to watch and develop then these two bonding over a beer in a bar. Jenny Slate, you are wonderful but this part was written poorly for you.
I can’t say you will notice or see anything new watching this feature more than once. It is a story played out on film before but if you just can’t stop looking at Chris Evans then that would be a reason to add this to your collection but overall one time through is enough. I do recommend this film but it is not something that needs to be seen in theatres. Again, if you want a break from what is out right now and go for something smaller, this is a nice afternoon at the movies.
3 out of 5
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