One of the most fun and uplifting films of the year, Rob Reiner's The
Bucket List is also a likely contender for Academy Award nominations.
Wonderfully sarcastic dialogue, poignant exchanges between excellently
crafted characters, and an overall beautiful tale of mortality and
morality, The Bucket List is an excellent opportunity for two of the
greatest actors of our time to show off their inimitable techniques.
Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman have a chemistry that will have you
laughing until you cry and crying at the sight of something truly
Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) is an incredibly wealthy hospital owner
who firmly believes that he's running infirmaries instead of health
spas, and therefore demands that each room contain two beds and two
patients. When a twist of fate lands him in his own hospital, he's
stuck sharing a room with Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman). Both men
are dying of cancer, and the doctors give each of them only a few
months left to live. The two slowly but surely realize how much they
enjoy each other's company, so when Carter begins writing a "bucket
list", Jack prompts him to see it through. The "bucket list" is a list
of all the things both Edward and Carter would like to accomplish in
their remaining months (before they kick the bucket) and with Cole's
wealth, the two end up touring the world, skydiving and racecar
driving. As their list of goals begins to come to an end, they realize
how much they've truly lived just in the last few months alone, and how
much their short friendship has impacted their lives.
Jack Nicholson's performance is excellent as the curmudgeonly Ebenezer
character that receives a change of heart and a change of view with
Carter's friendship. Little character development is necessary as we
have come to recognize Jack's style over the years. We're already
familiar with his character and relate to him in much the same way we
feel about all of his recent projects. He's attained a level of
recognition that allows us to acknowledge him simply as Jack.
Regardless of his role, he's still Jack, and he doesn't disappoint.
The same can be said for Morgan Freeman who continues to play roles
that accentuate his knack for worldly, wise and good-natured characters
that can make us laugh and cry from moment to moment. Rarely do we see
two actors work so well together this odd couple appears to have been
destined for these roles. The chemistry between these veterans is
pleasantly refreshing, and because of it, The Bucket List is one of the
most entertaining films of the year.
Another aspect, which is a great credit to screenwriter Justin Zackham,
is the dialogue, which is continually hilarious even while it borders
on heartbreaking. Sarcasm and cynicism are proudly worn by Jack, and
the conversations conducted between the two are never dull. Meaningful,
affecting and downright funny, the script is amazingly well paced and
flows more naturally than anything in recent memory.
Nearly everything is likable about The Bucket List, except the tone of
the film, which many awards voters and critics may feel is too
repetitious of late. The film is uplifting and heartwarming, and while
the conclusion strives for unpredictability, comparisons may be drawn
to similarly crafted works. "Driving Miss Daisy" and "As Good as it
Gets" are immediately brought to mind, especially because these include
the same actors, although the morals of "A Christmas Carol" and "It's A
Wonderful Life" are clearly beneath the surface of this feel-good
comedy. Despite these comparisons, The Bucket List is wholesome
entertainment that will certainly bring director Rob Reiner back into
the spotlight, especially after his unpropitious previous project,
"Rumor Has It
- Mike Massie