One Last Thing...

2006, Movie, R, 97 mins


Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon's performance as a widowed, blue-collar mom dealing with the imminent death of her teenage son is the glue that holds together Alex Steyermark and Barry Stringfellow's uneven tragicomedy. The United Wish Givers foundation is granting 16-year-old terminal-cancer patient Dylan Jamieson (Michael Angarano) his wish to take a fishing trip with his favorite football player, Jason O'Malley (Johnny Messner). But just before the press conference — Dylan's fortunes are big news in little Marcus Hook, Penn. — Dylan decides there's something he'd like much, much more: a weekend with supermodel Nikki Sinclair (Sunny Mabrey). Encouraged by goofball pals Slap (Gideon Glick) and Ricky (Matthew Bush), Dylan says as much on air, and the human-interest story makes it all the way to Nikki's manager (Gina Gershon) in New York. At her wit's end with Nikki, a self-destructive alcoholic who's rapidly flushing her career right down the toilet, she arranges a photo-op visit in hopes of scaring up some positive publicity. Nikki and her entourage stay just long enough for a photo op, but for all her self-indulgent hissy fits, Nikki isn't a total bitch: In fact, underneath the fierce makeup and divatude, she's a small-town girl who can't forgive herself for ditching her doting high-school boyfriend to pursue fame and fortune. Nikki tells Dylan to call if he ever gets to New York, never imagining he actually will, but with a little help from Jason — the definition of a world-class good sport — and a reluctant go-ahead from Dylan's protective mother, Karen (Nixon), Dylan, Slap and Ricky are soon en route. Their misadventures are standard "small-town boys in the big city" stuff, but the cute interactions with oddball New Yorkers never overshadow the fact that Dylan is getting sicker by the day; his inexorably worsening condition forces him to cut the trip short with his dream still unfulfilled. Stringfellow's ambitious script tries to pack a lot of thematic underpinnings into a slim story, including conflicting ideas about the afterlife, the way different cultures approach and prepare for (or don't) death, the corrosive consequences of self-recrimination, and the ripple effect one life can have on others. It doesn't always work, but the cast is uniformly accomplished — even Bush and Glick make their goofball characters annoying like teen boys, rather than annoying like movie cliches — and sophomore director Steyermark, who made his debut with the defiantly ragged PREY FOR ROCK & ROLL (2003), keeps the sentimentality in check. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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