McKenna Grace Exhibits Great Range in GIFTED

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Gifted on Blu-ray

Young Mary Adler (FULLER HOUSE's MCKENNA GRACE) is about to start first grade, and is resisting it every step of the way, preferring to continue being home-schooled by her uncle, Frank (CHRIS EVANS, MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS). It's not just that she is scared to go to school -- it's that the lessons involve 1+1=2, and Mary is already well past solving quadratic equations.

Mary Adler is a mathematics prodigy, like her mother, Diane. But Diane's mother, Evelyn (SHERLOCK's LINDSAY DUNCAN), pushed her relentlessly to solve one of the Millennium Problems, and it consumed her life until she finally took it herself, leaving the infant Mary in the care of her brother Frank. Now Frank is doing his best to try to give Mary a "normal" life being a kid to avoid her mother's fate, while still coping with her advanced mental capacity.

Ultimately, Mary cannot hide her gifts from the school and her first grade teacher (JENNY SLATE, THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE), and her existence is soon brought to the attention of her grandmother, Evelyn. This sets the stage for a custody battle between two forces who both claim to want what's best for a child -- a normal life versus the cultivation of natural talents.

Evans and Duncan play very well off each other, having the most civil of bitter disagreements on screen. Frank Adler is well-educated and sharp-witted, despite his appearances (he gave up a position as a professor of philosophy to take up mechanics in order to raise Mary), and Evelyn gives as good as she gets, being relentlessly manipulative behind the scenes. OCTAVIA SPENCER (HIDDEN FIGURES) as neighbor Roberta provides a wonderful anchor for Evans to play off of, and a good friend for Mary as well.

But it's Grace who really steals the show here. That's not unexpected to hear in films that center around the trope of the "precocious child," I know, but she handles the swings between "Bobby Fisher" and "Eloise" with great aplomb, going from solving advanced calculus to making up impromptu songs and cheers about Fred the One-Eyed Cat without missing a beat.

GIFTED is an emotional journey that challenges the definition of family, as its characters are forced to contrast what they say they want against what they really want. A must-see drama that will have you cheering the highs and crying with the lows.

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0