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Mitch Albom’s “For One More Day”

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With slim pickings on television lately, the premiere of a new movie based on the book For One More Day by Mitch Albom may be the refreshing break you have been yearning for. I took a look at a pre-broadcast screening and feel this is a film that is definitely a cut above typical TV offerings. Please continue reading for a full review.

—Rod Gustafson

“Based on a novel by Mitch Albom, this [is a] tale of miraculous insight and second chances.”

Charley Benetto's (Michael Imperioli) life has hit a major roadblock -- and in a moment it will collide with an even larger truck as he drunkenly careens down a dark road. The trail that led him to this despairing moment makes up the balance of this film, which is pieced together through a series of disjointed flashbacks.

As a child, "Chick" (played by Vadim Imperioli) adored his baseball-worshipping father (Scott Cohen), even though the man frequently pitched harsh comments about having no sympathy for losers. Coming in from the diamond, his mother (Samantha Mathis) tried to soften the blows by providing unconditional love. The bewildered boy felt caught in the perpetual tug-of-war between their divergent personalities, until the day his parents' relationship suddenly snapped.

Then he firmly decided to side with his Dad.

As Chick grows he continues to foster resentment against the woman whom he now also blames for not supporting his baseball dreams. Whenever he is put in a position to choose between her or his beloved sport and Dad, he always picks the latter. So it's no wonder he opts to play ball instead of participating in the seventieth birthday celebration for his mother (now played by Ellen Burstyn). What is a little out of character is his reaction when it turns out that the special day he trades is her last in mortality.

Haunted by regret, Chick dives into the bottle, eventually estranging his own family. But he is unable to drown his sorrow after he discovers his daughter (Emily Wickersham) has gotten married without inviting him to the wedding.

Feeling like he has no reason to live, the broken soul heads into the night where the fateful accident awaits. Regaining consciousness, the bloodied-faced man wanders away from the wreckage, still determined to kill himself. But just as he pulls out the pistol he's been keeping in his possession and points it at his head, he sees his mother coming toward him. Not understanding how this could be possible, he gives into the vision and is offered the ultimate gift: An opportunity to re-live that last day with his mother.

Based on a novel by Mitch Albom, this tale of miraculous insight and second chances is another example of the author's seemingly insatiable curiosity about the transition dividing life from death. Like his incredibly moving Five People You Meet In Heaven from a few years earlier, this made-for-TV-movie adaptation presents its metaphysical concept without pandering to a particular belief, aside from the notion that it is shortsighted to believe life ends at the grave.

The story offers other lessons as well, which are applicable to the here and now. These include an exploration of how misconceptions can destroy lifelong relationships, the consequences of harboring childhood hurts and the healing power of love and forgiveness.

Although the movie contains depictions of alcoholism, the automobile accident (not seen in detail), a suicide attempt, a handful of minor profanities and discussions of infidelity, this quietly poignant story is worthy of an evening's time. Likely of more interest to adults than children, For One More Day will undoubtedly leave you thinking about your own family and the things you can do to nurture cherished relationships.

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About the Reviewer: Rod Gustafson

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