Plot Watch: Just Die Already!

Hollywood's gone terminal, as evidenced by the relentless parade of recent films that revive a tired plotline: If you were told you had only a few weeks left to live, what would you do with them? Bette Davis originated the bit circa 1939 in Dark Victory; 1970's Love Story drove another nail into the cinematic coffin. Decades and innumerable versions later, we say, let the played-out gimmick rest in peace.

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HENRY POOLE IS HERE, 2008

The victim: Luke Wilson

The sob story: Terminally ill businessman ditches his fiancée to spend his final six weeks watching bad TV.

Indulgences: Twinkies-and-vodka benders; religion, after seeing Jesus in a stain on the side of his house following Twinkies-and-vodka bender.

Moral: It's never too late to find faith.

Spoiler alert!: He lives. (Yay?)

THE BUCKET LIST, 2007

The victims: Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman

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The sob story: Terminally ill billionaire and blue-collar mechanic blow through fantasy to-do lists.

Indulgences: Race cars; skydiving; babes.

Moral: People from different races and socioeconomic classes can be friends.

Spoiler alert!: Until they die.

LAST HOLIDAY, 2006

The victim: Queen Latifah

The sob story: Terminally ill salesclerk jets off to Europe after a CAT scan reveals that she's got three weeks to live.

Indulgences: Ski vacations; lavish makeovers; gourmet meals; make-out sessions with LL Cool J.

Moral: You can't take it with you.

Spoiler alert!: Paging LL—she lives!

A WALK TO REMEMBER, 2002

The victim: Mandy Moore

The sob story: Terminally ill minister's daughter falls for the coolest guy in school.

Indulgences: Temporary tattoos; illicit joyrides across state lines; marriage to the cool guy.

Moral: Not all underage marriages end in divorce.

Spoiler alert!: She dies. —Sarah Z. Wexler

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