A Film Review By Stefan Vlahov
It’s movies like these that make me mad. This film is so good that its deplorable limited release is a crime. Obviously, I can’t do anything about changing any film’s release, or the number of movie theatres there are so all movies can be released in at least 400 theatres. Living in Chicago has prevented me from seeing some allegedly great films like The Beat That My Heart Skipped, 3-Iron, and Dear Frankie. thankfully One Last Thing… got to Chicago and boy, am I glad I saw it Saturday.
Every year, a film comes out that makes me say – “If I was to make a film one day, it would be exactly like this.” In 2003 the film was In America, in 2004 it was I’m Not Scared and in 2005 it was the Mexican film Innocent Voices. The reason I think that way about these films is because they contain subjects, themes, and messages very close to my heart. When I see films like that, I get very emotional very quickly. The characters in these films are usually ones I can connect with and their hardships become my hardships, their decisions mirror my decisions, their journey through life equates mine, their journey’s resolutions affect me on a personal level.
One Last Thing… tells the story of Dylan (Michael Angarano), a teenager in the last stages of terminal cancer. His time to live is estimated in days or weeks, but he is trying to let life be as normal as it can be in this situation. A Make a Wish Foundation chooses Dylan as their newest candidate. He is given the choice to meet or do anyone or anything he wants to. His wish is to meet his favorite football player, Jason O’Malley (Johnny Messner), a wish that his mother (Cynthia Nixon) truly approves of. But, at the last moment, Dylan changes his mind. He decides he wants to meet the model whose poster he has hanging on his wall. The model is Nikki Sinclair (Sunny Mabrey), and her reputation as a bad girl is one Dylan’s mom disapproves of. Still, the Make A Wish Foundation comes through, and Dylan gets his wish. What he doesn’t know is that the only reason Nikki agreed to meet him is because her agent told her that it would be good for her image.
What’s great about Barry Stringfellow’s script is that Dylan just happens to be a virgin and he definitely doesn’t want to die one. Still, the script doesn’t go into The 40-Year-Old Virgin territory and keeps the sexual undertones minimal. What it does do is inject some humor in the form of two supporting characters – Dylan’s two best friends Slap and Ricky (Gideon Glick and Matt Bush respectively). Slap and Ricky’s welcome comic relief is never laugh-out-loud funny, as it shouldn’t be, but it serves well to emphasize the sadness of the events that happen at the end of this film.
The acting is above par across the board. Angarano is never manipulative as a dying teenager might be in these types of films, but really accurate in his portrayal. He carries the film on his shoulders and everyone else is simply a supporting character. Still, supporting characters are an important part of a film and everyone here does a good job. Sunny Mabrey as Nikki is appropriate and serves as an enjoyable cliche of many stuck-up characters like her in past movies. The script of course gets her out of the cliche zone near the end, and that is commendable. Cynthia Nixon does a good job as a sad, caring mother and is much better than in any episodes of “Sex and the City.”
While many people might call the end of this film manipulative and way too similar to say – the way A Walk to Remember ended, it is sad because, it’s real. The unfortunate truth is that things like these happen way too often. When you are an observant in the audience , you know how this film will end, and I knew, but it still hit me emotionally, because the script never is not afraid of invoking the feeling of pity and sorrow, and also consequences which is something rare.
The best way to describe this film on the technical side of things is tight. Director Alex Steyermark doesn’t include any scenes that are unneeded, but he also doesn’t live anything unanswered. It’s a film that looks cheap, yes, but that’s only because of its soul reliance on actors to send the message – not actions. This is a talkative film, but one that is never boring and never pretentious. It is a film that made me happy to be alive. In fact, nothing to have come out this year measures up to the emotional impact of this film. I laughed…I cried…