Some movies are better than their descriptions suggest. A film about a talking pig, for instance, doesn't sound all that promising, but Babe turned out just fine. And if someone hadn't gotten past the questionable notion of a comedy set in a mobile army hospital, we never would have had M*A*S*H. On the other hand, some movies are exactly as bad as they sound. Take One Last Thing…, in which a terminally ill teen (Michael Angarano) disrupts a press conference for a Special Wish-like charity by changing his request from a fishing trip with a favorite football player (Johnny Messner) to a weekend alone with a hard-living supermodel played by Sunny Mabrey. The mix of smarminess and sentimentality is exactly as toxic as it sounds. If Howard Stern and the Lifetime network were ever to team up on a project, it might look like this.
But the real problem with One Last Thing… isn't that it's a teen sex comedy or a sappy melodrama, it's that it can't make up its mind. One moment, Angarano's friends are stuffing $100 bills into strippers' G-strings when they accompany their buddy on an all-expenses-paid trip to New York to make his dream come true. The next, Angarano's talkin' 'bout, you know, reincarnation and stuff with a totally down-to-earth shopkeeper (Michael Rispoli) who knows all 'bout Hinduism and whatnot. Meanwhile, Angarano's every encounter with Mabrey allows her to inch toward regaining the humanity she'd previously lost in a haze of booze and pills. She may see herself as a spoiled fashion casualty, but he sees the beautiful person inside her. (And who said dying teens weren't good for anything?) Seeing her inner beauty doesn't stop Angarano from wanting to bone her outer beauty, however.
It's to Angarano's credit that he almost keeps the film afloat. Last seen in the underappreciated comedy Sky High, he's a sensitive actor who frequently makes the material seem better than it is, even when the dialogue devolves into grim sitcom one-liners. (Cynthia Nixon as Angarano's mother: "What am I going to do with you?" Angarano: "Bury me.") But anyone stuck in a film featuring Wyclef Jean as a magical cab driver who may or may not be the reincarnation of Angarano's dad (played in flashbacks by an uncredited Ethan Hawke), has a deep dark hole to crawl out of, and One Last Thing… keeps sucking him and everyone else involved down in spite of their best efforts.