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Not the usual dying wish

May 05, 2006|Carina Chocano | Times Staff Writer

In "One Last Thing ... ," a terminal teenager changes his "Make-A-Wish"-style dying fancy from fishing with his favorite football star to spending a weekend alone with the supermodel of his dreams on live TV -- which seems like a good move, considering. Written by television writer Barry Stringfellow ("Perfect Strangers," "Sweet Valley High") and directed by Alex Steyermark ("Prey for Rock and Roll"), the movie straddles the heretofore undiscovered line between gonadal teen comedy and weepy cancer drama, throwing a couple of dead people into the back story for good measure.

Sixteen-year-old Dylan Jamieson (Michael Angarano) lives with his widowed mother, Karen (Cynthia Nixon), in an industrial Pennsylvania town. In the last stages of brain cancer, he is granted a publicity stunt by a charity called "United Wish Givers" and elects to spend a weekend trawling for trout with NFL stud Jason O'Malley (Johnny Messner). Sharing his medical pot with his best friends, Ricky (Matt Bush) and Slap (Gideon Glick), before the press conference, Dylan is presented with the challenge of asking for the thing he really wants and rises to the occasion.

Meanwhile, in New York, Nikki Sinclair (Sunny Mabrey) is teetering on the apex of the fashion world, porn star name notwithstanding, just one drink away from falling off. When the item makes the news, Nikki's manager, Arlene (Gina Gershon), seizes the damage-control opportunity and whisks her off to Pennsylvania for a photo op, leaving Dylan in the dust the minute the snap is shot.

Luckily for Dylan, there's more to Nikki than meets the eye -- namely, a crushing load of self-destructive guilt over a lost love. O'Malley turns out to be a hero after all. Over the objections of Dylan's bereft mother, the football player supplies the boys with a hotel room in New York, an envelope full of cash and his blessing, and off to the supermodel's house the kids go.

An odd, hard-to-figure little movie, "One Last Thing ..." is too dark to be very funny, too mushy to be pitch black. Angarano is charming, and his ghoulish friends (Bush put me in mind of a young Vincent Schiavelli) weirdly spellbinding, but the script keeps the focus on the characters' pasts, trading the opportunity to explore a kid's standoff with death in favor of psychologically larded motivations and fantasies-come-true. Despite Dylan's last-minute exposure to the afterlives of the major religions (the doctor is Hindu, and our hero meets a Buddhist in New York), you get the feeling that "One Last Thing ..." is suggesting that the consolations of mortality are to be found in a few all-expenses-paid luxuries, and a snuggle with a Kate Moss wannabe.


`One Last Thing'

MPAA rating: Unrated. Mild sexual references, drug use.

A Magnolia Pictures release. Director Alex Steyermark. Screenplay Barry Stringfellow. Producers Joana Vicente, Jason Kliot, Susan A. Stover. Director of photography Christopher Norr. Editor Michael Berenbaum. Music by Anton Sanko. Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes.

Exclusively at Laemmle's Fairfax Cinemas, 7907 Beverly Blvd. (at Fairfax Avenue), (323) 655-4010.

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