Making the Grades
Ben Carson (Cuba Gooding Jr.) is a neurosurgeon with Gifted Hands. Yet, the prospect of performing a challenging operation where he will attempt to separate a pair of twins who are attached at the head (which comes with a high risk of losing one of the babies), has him pondering the path that led him to this place in his life.
Who could have guessed a young black boy growing up in an impoverished neighborhood would one day be a world-class doctor? Not even his mother—although she deserves most of the credit for his achievement.
A single parent struggling with depression, Sonya Carson (Kimberly Elise) wants more for her family than she had for herself. So she pushes her two boys to read instead of watching TV and do homework instead of playing. She also insists they attend church regularly, whether or not she is well enough to go with them. Because she imagines a better world for her children, and perseveres against their complaints, both of her sons begin to succeed academically.
But Ben still faces another obstacle. Quick-tempered, the teen wants friends and is soon battling with peer pressure and an invitation to become involved with a rough crowd. When confronted by a concerned Mrs. Carson about his poor choices, an ugly argument erupts. Later, his hot head leads to a violent incident at school that nearly costs him all hopes for his future. (These depictions, which include physical scuffling and an attempted knifing, constitute the violent content in the film.)
Afraid of what he might become, Ben turns to God for help managing his anger. And thanks to the supportive love of his family and a beautiful fellow university student he meets at Yale (Aunjanue Ellis), the young man is able to chart a new course one that eventually leads to the Johns Hopkins Medical Institution.
Now the talented doctor finds himself reflecting on a road that has been strewn with racial prejudice, personal and professional challenges, along with numerous blessings. As the responsibility of life and death decisions weigh on his mind, Ben searches to find the best treatment plan for the conjoined twins, as well as all the children placed in his care.
Based on the real life story of Dr. Ben Carson, this made-for-TV movie demonstrates the amazing results that can be achieved through hard work and vision. While the production includes portrayals of medical procedures and surgery, these scenes are not overly graphic (some blood is shown and verbal references are made to death). The script also contains a few mild profanities. Still, Gifted Hands is inspiring from start to finish, proving it isn’t where you begin, but the direction you pursue, that determines where you end up.