DVD / Blu-Ray
Best Picture Oscar nominee “Lion” is also new to Blu-Ray this week.The famous names from the...
A thought-provoking central question keeps us interested even as the story veers away from its strength.
Is it worth $10? Yes
The best movies – the ones that stick with you long after the credits roll – are often ones that pose thought-provoking questions to which there’s no easy answer. “Gifted” is such a movie, and with its quick wit and charm, it wins you over with earnestness in spite of its notable shortcomings.
Here’s the dilemma: Frank (Chris Evans) is the guardian of his seven year-old niece, Mary (Mckenna Grace). Frank’s sister/Mary’s mother made it known she wanted Frank to have Mary before she committed suicide (Mary’s father is not around). Mary is a math prodigy who is clearly too smart for her small Florida town’s public school, which is something her teacher (Jenny Slate) doesn’t have to tell Frank. Even Frank’s neighbor (Octavia Spencer) knows how smart Mary is. But when offered the opportunity to send Mary to a school for gifted children, Frank demurs, insisting Mary receive a “normal” upbringing.
Screenwriter Tom Flynn’s script is at its best when it allows the main storyline – about a seven year-old math prodigy getting to know the world – to shine. Mary is a dynamic, fascinating girl, and just like it’s a shame that she’s caught in the middle of a custody hearing, it’s a shame that Webb and Flynn all but ignore the curiosities around her brilliance in favor of a stale, melodramatic legal battle.
And yet, for all its infuriating moments and unnecessary deviations, it maintains a “just right” appeal that allows it to work. Oscar winner Spencer (“The Help”) may be wasted as the sassy neighbor next door – she’s so much better than what this role allows – but the rest of the performances are solid, particularly Grace as Mary, a character who could’ve been incredibly annoying but comes across as sweet and endearing.
“Gifted” plays it too safe to be genuinely memorable, and the frustrations it entails feel like pandering to Hollywood formula. However, it’s ultimately too much of a charmer to pass up.
Did you know?
Although it takes place in Florida, the film was shot in Georgia.