Strip away its “racier” elements—some cursing, kids occasionally smoking dope, a nudie club scene—and One Last Thing… is little more than a CBS Sunday night movie that peddles inspirational fairy-tale schmaltz and middling humor by the coffin-full. Dying Pennsylvanian teen Dylan (Sky High’s Michael Angarano) is given an opportunity by the United Wish Givers foundation to go fishing with his favorite football player Jason O’Malley (Johnny Messner), but at the televised press conference, the kid instead unexpectedly requests a date with supermodel Nikki Sinclair (Sunny Mabrey). When his gambit doesn’t go according to plan, Dylan sets about trying to meet and woo Nikki in Manhattan despite the concerns of his distraught mom Karen (Cynthia Nixon), not realizing that the object of his affection is really a slutty, soulless mess whose career is in a shambles and who spends evenings drinking and watching home videos of her now-dead first love. From the film’s opening frames, the stench of a gooey life-affirming message is overwhelmingly pungent, though what’s interesting (in a negative sense) about Alex Steyermark’s (Prey for Rock & Roll) second directorial effort—one of HDNet’s simultaneous theatrical-cable-and-DVD releases—is that it never quite figures out what that message should be. One Last Thing… is rife with competing themes (carpe diem, faith vs. skepticism, reincarnation, the essentiality of friendship, accepting one’s destiny) yet woefully lacking any means of meshing them into a coherent point, the result being a story whose alternately humorous and depressing moments gawkily clash against one another. While Angarano goes through the cough-cough motions as expiring horndog Dylan and random cameos (Ethan Hawke, Wyclef Jean) vainly attempt to up the whimsical, pseudo-spiritual ante, Cynthia Nixon deftly rises above the pervasive mediocrity by refusing to over-embellish her maternal character’s crushing grief. By and large, however, Steyermark’s latest is made-for-TV-style mush both slipshod in its general construction (to the point that Dylan’s tumor-related fatal illness is never even properly specified), and inept at emotional manipulation.
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