Dave's Rating:

4.5

Summer Bummer '09!

Who's In It: Abigail Breslin, Cameron Diaz, Jason Patric, Sofia Vassilieva, Evan Ellingson, Alec Baldwin, Joan Cusack

The Basics: Cancer-teen Kate (Vassilieva) has been sick her whole life with leukemia. So what do her parents do? Let the doctors create an exact-genetic-match baby sister (Breslin) in a lab, of course. Then they use her to harvest life-saving blood marrow, stem cells, platelets and hopefully, by the time the audience enters the story, a kidney. Enter the lawyers (well, one: Alec Baldwin) who try to help the now 11-year-old body-parts farm medically emancipate herself.

What's The Deal: I'm a little annoyed at this movie for cheating me out of a decent laugh. As a fan of bad cancer dramas that provoke more ha-ha-has than boo-hoo-hoos (see the Charlize Theron/ Keanu Reeves yuk-fest Sweet November for some good ones), I anticipated some serious hilarity or at least a chance to goof on it for being Stepmom 3: The Weepening. But no, not this one. It's more or less restrained (a third act courtroom meltdown is trite but forgivable) and feels more like the people who created it have spent some time with actual oncologists and deteriorating patients. As much as I can recommend any movie about a dying child, I'll recommend this one.

The Real Star: Sofia Vassilieva, star of Medium, a show I've never watched. She's got like 4th or 5th billing here but she turns out to be the emotional center of the movie, quietly refusing to overact and pragmatically demanding things like proms and teen sex before it's too late. Better yet, they didn't make her cuter as her character gets sicker, and she may have more vomit scenes than any other fictional character in recent screen memory.

Sore Thumb: Alec Baldwin. He's so good on 30 Rock that I can't see him as anything but comedic anymore. I know that's my problem, not his. But when the first thing he does is make a joke about his pet dog being a service animal who detects health-impairing magnets for him, I defy you not to think of Jack Donaghy. And then, on top of it all, the main plot involves someone who needs a kidney transplant and all I could think about was Mary J. Blige searching for the Loch Ness Monster and "We Are The Pizza."

How Much Tissue You'll Need: A nice travel-sized package should do.

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