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‘One Last Thing’: Film Review

Wendell Pierce and Jurnee Smollett-Bell star in Tim Rouhana’s drama about a lonely man who finds his long-lost daughter.

If there’s one quality Wendell Pierce possesses as an actor, it’s authenticity. The veteran of such television shows as The Wire, Treme and Suits is simply incapable of projecting a false note whether he’s performing low comedy or high drama. But even his estimable skills aren’t enough to make Tim Rouhana’s hopelessly sappy One Last Thing ring remotely true. Being shown on some 700 screens nationwide, the film deserves its dubious billing as “A Chicken Soup for the Soul Event.”

Pierce’s turn is indeed the best thing about this drama in which he plays the snappily named Dylan Derringer. A dentist living in Orlando, Dylan is a lonely man, a very lonely man. A man so lonely he can’t even muster up a friend or acquaintance with whom to play golf, his favorite recreational pursuit.

So it’s easy to understand Dylan’s excitement when a private investigator tells him he’s finally discovered his long-lost daughter for whom he has been searching for 25 years. Dylan promptly heads to Brooklyn and proceeds to essentially stalk the young woman, Lucy (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), as he’s unable to work up the courage to introduce himself.

Along the way, Dylan discovers that his daughter drinks coffee, frequents a bookstore and has a girlfriend. He also follows her to a hospital, where he’s unsuccessful in learning exactly what medical condition she’s apparently suffering from, although he does find out that her records list her father as “deceased.”

Eventually, Lucy gets wise and confronts her follower, who despite his frequent rehearsing blurts out the truth to her in awkward fashion. She’s naturally surprised and upset, resistant to his entreaties about getting to know each other. But it doesn’t take long for the two to form a strong emotional bond, even exchanging handwritten letters after Dylan returns to Florida. We’re clued in that his life has been upended by his golf game going down the drain.

This being a “Chicken Soup” type of film, a serious problem soon arises. It turns out that Lucy suffers from a rare disease and is in desperate need of a kidney transplant. Dylan decides to become her donor, a decision that doesn’t sit well with Jamie (Joanne Froggatt), his beautiful dental hygienist whose crush is immediately apparent to us, if not to him. Just as he’s preparing to make his fatherly sacrifice, Dylan gets back lab test results indicating that…well, let’s just say that if you haven’t guessed by that point, you’re either not paying attention or have never seen a bad movie before.

By the time one of the characters winds up in a coma and Dylan reveals what he intends to do with the stash of gold fillings he’s extracted from his patients (even he admits it sounds creepy), you’ll have long since thrown up your hands. Unless, that is, you don’t mind domestic happiness being indicated by a scene featuring someone blissfully carving a turkey at Thanksgiving dinner.

That the film works at all is due to the performances of Smollett-Bell, who is natural and appealing, and Pierce, who infuses his low-key portrayal with his usual deep soulfulness. But their fine efforts are not enough to lift the mediocre One Last Thing above its basic cable-level veneer.

Production companies: Beech Hill Films, Low Profile Films
Distributor: Screen Media Films
Cast: Wendell Pierce, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Joanne Froggatt
Director-screenwriter: Tim Rouhana
Producers: Alexa L. Fogel, Brendan Mason
Director of photography: Benji Bakshi
Editor: Perri B. Frank
Composer: James Lavino
Costume designer: Lorraine Coppin
Casting: Alexa L. Fogel

92 minutes

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Amanda C

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