Chris Evans stars as an all American hero, with a heart of gold and the best of intentions; though this time, he’s Frank, the uncle of orphaned Mary (McKenna Grace). The two of them live in a secluded area in Florida, with few troubles and a one eyed cat named Fred. Frank fixes boats for a living, while Mary enjoys her maths.
The film kicks off with Mary attending her first day of school, and it quickly becomes apparent that she’s not like other kids, or most people. She is incredibly gifted, picked up by her teacher Bonnie (Jenny Slate) and brought to the principal’s attention. When they come to Frank with the chance of lifetime for young Mary, he declines.
Frank’s reasoning is he wants the best for his niece, but doesn’t necessarily believe that being treated differently to other children is the way forward. He wants her to live the life of a normal child, and this story unravels as Frank and his mother go to court and we learn more about this family.
Gifted, directed by The Amazing Spiderman alumni Marc Webb, is a comedy drama which, it must be said, has plenty of eye rolling moments. It hits the cliches of the genre, some ideas are from screenwriting 101, the ideas you’ve seen before.
There’s Frank and Bonnie embarking on a drunken night of romance only one scene after promising they wouldn’t. There’s Mary singing with her neighbour Roberta as only the most lovable child can. There’s Cat Seven’s music. But amongst all this is a film with a lot of heart, and you’ll do well to not get choked up at times.
Evans is on impeccable form as the doting father figure, the fractured man doing his best for this little girl. He drops his life for his niece, the details of which come to light during the court proceedings. If Evans was the already known for his various superhero efforts, here he brings those daring deeds down to core level as Frank.
He’s the MVP here, though much must also be said of Grace, the young girl who has had bit parts before coming to the fore as the clever Mary. And yet, with everything the two leads have to offer, the film does all to the pit falls of it’s story. It becomes predictable, you can see it come to it’s inevitable happy conclusion.
It’s just a pity. Everyone puts in such a stellar performance, and with a director like Webb at the helm, you might expect a bit better. The film has a lot of heart, and is thoroughly enjoyable, but it just isn’t enough to make it stand out from the crowd of other Kramer vs Kramer light jaunts we’ve seen over the years.