The Last Request (2006)

Rating: B-

Dir: John DeBellis
Star: T.R. Knight, Danny Aiello, Sabrina Lloyd, Barbara Feldon

When Pop (Aiello) finds out he’s dying, his last request is for his sons to marry and continue the family name. After an unfortunate accident involving an opera-singer and a mirror take the elder child out of contention, it’s up to Jeff (Knight) to fulfill his father’s last request. But since he’s in training to be a priest, he is hardly wise in the ways of the world, despite the seminary appearing to be run largely by cast members of The Sopranos. He gets a job at Encore Acres, a retirement home for aged actors, where he works alongside Cathy (Lloyd), who is beautiful, sweet, kind – everything one could ever want in a woman.

Of course, in this kind of comedy Jeff is utterly oblivious to her charms, preferring dates with a wide range of lunatic ladies, up to and including Siamese twins who fight over his attentions. Meanwhile, Pop completely refuses to take his impending demise seriously, being photographed in his coffin, wearing a Hawaiian shirt and in front of a sign saying, ‘Do Not Feed The Corpse’. Yes, anyone expecting a tasteful and subtle exploration of mortality should stay well clear. This is broad humour, to say the least, particularly in Pop’s case – though his approach towards the approaching final curtain is exactly the way we want to go out too.

While Aiello hams things up magnificently, the film is carried by a more restrained performance from Knight, who takes his character and makes him sympathetic, when Jeff could easily just have been a caricature, staggering from one romantic disaster to the next. The storyline doesn’t have any surprises, and not all the humour works – far from it. But nor are there many dead spots [pun not intentional!], and enough of both the comedy and the drama do succeed, to make this an entirely acceptable way to spend an hour and a half.