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.
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
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