My family and I had the opportunity to attend an advanced screening of the movie “Gifted”. Before I launch into my thoughts and opinions, let me give you a little background on the movie. Here is the official plot synopsis:
Frank Adler (Chris Evans) is a single man raising a child prodigy – his spirited young niece Mary (Mckenna Grace) – in a coastal town in Florida. Frank’s plans for a normal school life for Mary are foiled when the seven-year-old’s mathematical abilities come to the attention of Frank’s formidable mother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) whose plans for her granddaughter threaten to separate Frank and Mary. Octavia Spencer plays Roberta, Frank and Mary’s landlady and best friend. Jenny Slate is Mary’s teacher, Bonnie, a young woman whose concern for her student develops into a connection with her uncle as well.
Reason 1 – the cast.
“Gifted” manages to make its viewers laugh and cry, sometimes almost simultaneously. This is in no small part due to the excellent cast, so let me start there. If you have only seen Chris Evans as Captain America, be prepared to be very impressed at his versatility. He manages to portray a man who feels things deeply but shares very little of it openly and punctuates that with the perfect amount of brooding looks and understated reactions. Octavia Spencer is brilliant as usual. Little surprise there as I have yet to see her in a role I didn’t love. She manages to convey how much Mary means to her without over doing it and the relationship between the two characters feels very natural. Lastly is Mckenna Grace. This little girl is amazing. If you are a Designated Survivor fan like me, you may be familiar with her role as Penny Kirkman, the President’s daughter. Fuller House fans will recognize her as Rose, the Titanic fanatic from the second season. While I enjoyed her in both those other roles, they in no way prepared me for her ability to portray Mary as an adorable and multi-dimensional first grader with such heart-tugging accuracy. None of the more emotional scenes felt the least bit forced and every toothless smile felt real. I am so excited to see where else Mckenna pops up in the future – a young actress with this kind of talent is one to watch!
Reason 2 – the message.
Without giving too much of the plot away, I will say that “Gifted” makes the viewers examine their definition of family and also what a child needs to thrive. Is a family made up of the people to whom you are physically related or those who put your well-being first? Does a child need advanced schooling and lessons galore or does she need a place where she can dance and play on the floor? All of these are presented and evaluated in “Gifted” and make you really think about your assumptions around what raising a successful child really means.
Reason 3 – the feels.
Yes, this movie gives you all the feels. One minute you are ahhh-ing over something adorable that was said, the next minute you want to punch a character (for me it was the grandmother!), and the next minute you are laughing while wiping away the tears that were just making their way down your cheeks. “Gifted” taps every emotion in your heart more than once. At one particularly moving scene, people in the theater I was in were openly weeping. I have not experienced that in a long time.
Is it appropriate for kids? I’m going to say that it depends on their age and maturity. There are a few strategically placed swear words and a scene where the dad brings a woman home from a bar and they are shown waking up the next morning together. My 12 year old was fine with the content and very much enjoyed the story line but I’m not sure I would bring a child younger than 10.
In case you can’t already tell, we loved “Gifted” and highly recommend it! “Gifted” is opening in select theaters April 7th and everywhere on April 12th. In the meantime, you can enjoy this trailer!