Movie Review Jackie K Cooper
"The Ultimate Life" (Reel Works)
Michael Landon Jr.'s latest directorial effort is a movie titled "The Greatest Life." This is the sequel and also the prequel to the 2006 film "The Ultimate Gift." Landon appears to be following in his father's footsteps in being involved with faith based stories. "The Ultimate Life" is certainly a film that presents a moral message and does it in an entertaining way.
Jason Stevens (Logan Bartholomew) is a young man who has been selected by his grandfather, Red Stevens (James Garner), to run his hugely successful foundation. When this transfer of power takes place Jason's relatives are unhappy and sue to take control of the foundation and its funds. While fighting this battle Jason is given his grandfather's journal. In reading it he finds out more about the man who entrusted him with such a fortune.
The movie flashes back to the story of the young Red Stevens (Drew Waters) who decided at an early age he was going to be a billionaire - just like Andrew Carnegie. He doesn't know how he is going to achieve this goal but he is bent, bound and determined to do so. The bulk of the film is about his road to success.
The weight of the film's success rests on the shoulders of Waters. He plays the dominant character and makes the film believable because his performance is so compelling. He also enhances the performances of those around him. He is not well known to most members of the audience but he could use this role as a springboard to bigger and better parts.
The only well known actor in the film is Peter Fonda who has a cameo as a wealthy rancher who encourages Red on his road to success. It is a shame that Fonda's role is not larger as he still has a presence on screen that draws audiences to him. Bill Cobbs, who plays Jason's attorney, is also a familiar face but his name is not as well known as Fonda's.
The movie is rated PG for some mild wartime violence.
"The Ultimate Life" is not a totally successful movie. Some of the actors on screen are not up to par in their acting abilities. Still the presentation of its overall message is entertaining and most of the characters will hold the audience's interest. Landon keeps the film moving at a reasonable pace and manages to inject both humor and heart into the presentation of the story.
"The Ultimate Life" is aimed at a faith based audience but its overall entertainment value could succeed beyond that core group. Landon's name as the director and the mention of Peter Fonda in the cast could help widen the appeal.
I scored "The Ultimate Life" a redeeming 6 out of 10.
Jackie K Cooper