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The 'Last' word: an ordinary tear-jerker

Dylan Jameison can't see wasting his dying wish on a shopping spree or a red carpet event or even a fishing trip with his favorite professional athlete. Dylan wants what most honest, terminally ill, 16-year-old boys would ask for if they could: He wants to spend a weekend with (a.k.a. bed) a supermodel. And as silly as that seems, it's easily the most plausible part of ''One Last Thing. . ."

From director Alex Steyermark (''Prey for Rock & Roll") and first-time feature screenwriter Barry Stringfellow, ''One Last Thing. . ." isn't so much a movie as it is A Very Special Episode in search of a TV series. It stars a sunken-eyed Michael Angarano (Jack's son, Elliot, on NBC's ''Will & Grace") as teenage cancer victim Dylan, Cynthia Nixon as the boy's silently suffering mom, and blond bombshell Sunny Mabrey as a self-destructive model named Nikki Sinclair, who apparently hasn't been happy since she traded her small-time roots and boyfriend for big-city fame and fortune.

(By the way, Nikki drinks too much and watches her prom video a lot; that's how we know she's a fashion model in pain.)

When Dylan surprises a charity press conference by announcing that he'd like to spend a weekend with his favorite pinup, his Pennsylvania high school buddies and the rest of America cheer him on. It isn't long before Nikki's agent, played by Gina Gershon without her ''Prey for Rock & Roll" snarl, stages a photo op to net her client some positive PR. Even Dylan's dead father (Ethan Hawke) reappears in visions and videotape to encourage the lad to go after his self-involved dream lady.

The result is a road trip to New York City, where Stringfellow's screenplay -- already groaning under the clichéd weight of horny teen sidekicks (one of whom is actually named Slap) and medicinal marijuana abuse -- makes room for strippers, thugs, supernatural happenings, and a helpful taxi driver who looks suspiciously like Wyclef Jean.

Dylan and Nikki are an awkward match at best, and their combined story is about as creative/convincing as a Hallmark card, despite the fact that Angarano's character is aggressively written to thumb his nose at sentimental convention.

But the saving grace here is the touching bond between Dylan and his tolerant, devoted single mom. Thanks in large part to Nixon, who essentially plays a salon-deprived version of her ''Sex and the City" character, the bittersweet parent-child scenes in this movie connect, to the degree that you might just find yourself moved to tears even as you roll your eyes.

Angarano, too, is impressive. For good reason, his career looks poised to take off in ways that ''Sky High" could not have predicted. And while ''One Last Thing. . ." probably won't be his breakout film, it's a pretty good testament to his ability to rise above mediocre material.

Janice Page can be reached at

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