(Updated Note: I just found out to what extent the movie ending is different from the book ending, and I must say, I’m disappointed that the producers/directors/writers didn’t stay faithful to the book. It would have made for a much more powerful movie overall.  – Mainstream Chick)

I  was teary-eyed throughout most of this movie, which kind of bugs me because it’s not nearly as good as it could have been. It’s a satisfactory chick flick that doesn’t have to work too hard to push our buttons. I mean, who doesn’t cry at a movie about a kid with cancer?

In this case, the kid is 15-year-old Kate Fitzgerald (played amazingly well by Sofia Vassilieva of tv’s Medium). Kate was diagnosed with leukemia at age two and needed a bone marrow transplant to survive. Her parents and brother failed to be a match, so the couple had another child – Anna – who was essentially genetically engineered to be a guaranteed donor. Fast-forward eleven years and Anna is off to see a lawyer, seeking “medical emancipation” from her parents so she can decide for herself whether to give up a kidney to a progressively ailing Kate.

The performances are all excellent: Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) as Anna, Cameron Diaz and Jason Patric as the parents, Alec Baldwin as Anna’s lawyer and Joan Cusack as the judge in the case. Evan Ellingson (who I’d never heard of) plays the older son, Jesse. I give him a shout-out because his performance was good even though his character was poorly developed. In fact, there are several characters given short shrift in this movie. Everyone (including the audience) would have been better served by more dialogue and stronger character development rather than the overuse of melodramatic music and inconsistent voice-overs to manipulate our emotions and shortcut the story.

I won’t divulge more about the plot, because frankly, it doesn’t matter. It’s a movie about joy and heartbreak, life and death, and family. It isn’t great, and it isn’t bad.

So should you see it? That depends. If you can’t get enough of movies like Beaches, Terms of Endearment or The Notebook, then go for it! Gather some gal pals and a box of tissues and catch a matinee. Or… wait for it to appear on Netflix, Pay per View, Lifetime Television, or an airplane – if you don’t mind arriving at your destination with tear-stained cheeks.

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