Directed by: Alex Steyermark | 93 minutes | drama, comedy | Actors: Michael Angarano, Cynthia Nixon, Sunny Mabrey, Matt Bush, Gideon Glick, Gina Gershon, Wyclef Jean, Gia Carides, Johnny Messner, Richie Rich, Lucas Caleb Rooney, Dana Eskelson, George Seminara, Amanda Goodman, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Alysia Reiner, Matt Fischel, Mark Sarian, Paula Rhodes, Mitchell Green, Warren Kole, Ivan Martin, Caprice Benedetti, J. Derek Peith, Elliott Brooks, Coati Mundi, Aria Pullman, Amy Leonard, Anthony Desio, Al Roffe, Anthony Patellis, Michael Rispoli, Geoffrey Cantor, Mario D’Leon, Maxime Alvarez de Toledo, William Rice, Shawnna Thibodeau, Marcel Puissant, Richard Marshall, David Luhr, Trevor Rains, Robert Bizik, Jessica Bohl, Geneva Carr, Ethan Hawke, Christy Bella Joiner, Heather Rose, Sonny Vellozzi
Alex Steyermark is best known for his work as a musician. He has coordinated the soundtracks for numerous films, including “Do the Right Thing” (1989), “Malcolm X” (1992), “The Ice Storm” (1997) and “Pieces of April” (2003). Before that, he had already tried his luck as an assistant editor. But, as with many others, Steyermark’s blood crept where it could not go and he took his chances as a director. In 2003 his debut “Prey for Rock & Roll” was released, a musical drama about an all-girl rock band who tries to gain a foothold in the Los Angeles club scene in the 1980s. The film received varying reviews, but that did not stop Steyermark from trying again two years later with “One Last Thing” (2005). This time, he targets a terminally ill boy who is determined to pursue his last wish – to spend a weekend with his “wet dream”, fashion model Nikki Sinclaire.
Fifteen-year-old Dylan Jameison (Michael Angarano), already in the throes of a brain tumor so much that he has only weeks to live, has been chosen by the aid organization United Wish Givers. They want to fulfill his dearest wish. Initially he says he would like to go fishing with his favorite American Football player (Johnny Messner) for a weekend, because he always did the same with his father (Ethan Hawke, uncredited) before he passed away a few years ago. After some fooling around with his friends (Matt Bush and Gideon Glick), however, with all the cameras on him, he decides to wish for what he really wants – and with him many other teenage kid: spend a weekend alone with supermodel Nikki Sinclaire (Sunny Mabrey). . Everyone, including his mother Karen (Cynthia Nixon), is in shock. A meeting is arranged at Dylan’s house, which the arrogant, troubled Nikki is actually not waiting for. However, she must cooperate to save her career. With her behavior on and off the catwalk, she has made herself impossible. But with a simple shake of hand and together in the picture, Dylan is not satisfied yet. Together with his mates and with some unexpected financial help, the visibly weakened boy decides to visit Nikki in New York. Much to the alarm of his mother …
“One Last Thing” is a film that cannot be easily tucked into a corner. There are comedic scenes, mostly provided by Dylan’s silly sidekicks Slap and Ricky, but the main storyline is of course mostly tragic. Steyermark and his screenwriter Barry Stringfellow (known from the teen series “Sweet Valley High”) also found it necessary to put all kinds of loose ends in their story. Dylan’s spiritual side is touched on, his relationship with his father is briefly reviewed and something of a romance seems to be developing between Karen and footballer Jason O’Malley. However, none of this is worked out satisfactorily. We also get to see from Nikki that she struggles with the past and regularly gets lost in alcohol and drugs, but here too they are just fragments; ends that we have to make ourselves but where we just do not get enough information. Stringfellow’s script is therefore the biggest problem in this otherwise surprisingly entertaining film. Now people are taking too much on the fork. What remains is a mishmash of good intentions, all of which fail miserably before they have properly presented themselves to the viewer.
Fortunately, the acting makes up for a lot. Main protagonist Michael Angarano (“Dear Wendy”, 2005) is impressive as the young Dylan who knows how to deal with his illness very mature. How often are terminally ill – and certainly terminally ill children – portrayed as pathetic, pitiful types? Angarano doesn’t like that and portrays Dylan as an ordinary teenager, with all the naughty antics and adolescent whims that come with it. As a character he is therefore particularly striking. He cannot help the fact that a lot of improbabilities and coincidences are happening around him. Cynthia Nixon (Miranda from “Sex and the City”) is in itself a bit dull as mother Karen. However, as soon as she shares the screen with Angarano, something fascinating happens. Together they know how to hit the right note. The other characters are quite stereotypical. This is especially true for troubled model Nikki and Dylan’s adolescent friends Ricky and Slap. The star of Steyermark’s previous film, Gina Gershon, can be seen briefly as Nikki’s manager and there are (too) short roles for Ethan Hawke, rapper Wyclef Jean and Brian Stokes Mitchell. On the production side, “One Last Thing” is somewhat ordinary. It is all solid, but little has been done to visually make something special out of it.
Although “One Last Thing” provides an entertaining viewing experience, this print rattles all over the place. Especially the script leaves a lot to be desired. The story is based on coincidences and the many side plots that are not worked out properly could have been better left out. It is mainly thanks to the talented protagonist Michael Angarano that this film is nevertheless very easy – and at times even pleasant – to look away. We will probably hear a lot from him.