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Danny Boyle previously directed Trainspotting, a nice family film about heroin addicts, Shallow Grave, a nice family film about killing your friends for money, and 28 Days Later, a nice family film about a plague that turns people into murderous zombies. So now Danny Boyle has made a nice family film about a kid who finds a suitcase full of money and wants to do good with it. No really, that's the plot! It's not as weird as it sounds. Boyle's films have always been idiosyncratic and his characters have always had their good points as well being self-destructive and murderous. Anyway, Millions is about a young English kid named Damian (Alexander Nathan Etel), whose mother has recently died. One day, he finds a bag full of cash that has been chucked off a train. Just so you know this movie is fictional, the week that Damian finds the money is also supposedly the week that the UK is joining the Euro, so the English pounds will be worthless unless it is spent or changed into the new currency. On top of all this, Damian sees visions of saints wherever he goes, including St. Peter (Alun Armstrong), St. Francis of Assisi and various more obscure saints. But Damian has an encyclopedic knowledge of the saints so he always recognizes them. He is obsessed with saints because he wants his mother to become one. Damian has just moved to a new house and a new school along with his father (James Nesbitt) and older brother (Lewis Owen McGibbon). Damian wants to do good with the money by giving it to the poor but his brother wants to make friends and influence people. They only have a few days to get rid of the money, and, of course, the owner of the money comes looking for it.
Millions is a very sweet and funny movie. Boyle does an excellent job moving the story along. As you know, a movie can rise or fall on how good or bad the child actors are. But the two kids in Millions really make it a joy to watch. Both are great, but Etel as Damian is amazing. He must be a natural because Millions is his first movie. The rest of the cast is made up of the usual wonderful British character actors. James Nesbitt as Damian's father is a recognizable face. He was in Waking Ned Devine. And St. Peter is Alun Armstrong who was most recently in Van Helsing.
Millions poses a moral dilemma. Should everyone try and live a saintly life? Or is helping yourself and your family also good? This kind of plot was well developed in Nick Hornby's book, How to be Good where a family is destroyed when the husband decides he wants to be good. Millions does a great job of exploring this theme in a light-hearted way. And don't worry about me calling Millions a family film, it's rated PG. But there aren't any zombies, druggies or murderers.