The Bucket List
cancer is usually not the catalyst for a buddy comedy. Chemo and
spitting up blood just isn't funny.
it is far from a perfect film, The Bucket List kicks off from this
somber premise and mostly succeeds in mixing humor, pathos and
wish-fulfillment into a predictable but mostly satisfying concoction.
It is worth
seeing simply because for the first time, two of the best actors alive are
allowed to riff off of each other.
Nicholson is slightly on autopilot here, occasionally falling back on such
staples as the shit-eating grin, the dark glasses and the raised eyebrows. (Also,
is it me or
is it getting a little disturbing how many of Jack Nicholson's roles lately
are about men facing their own mortality? I mean, I know he's aging,
but he's Jack Nicholson, for chrissakes... He is best as a force of
nature, not someone tied down by it.) However, even when he's going
through the motions, Nicholson is always intriguing.
plays Edwin, a billionaire who has made his fortune by resurrecting dying
hospitals with cost-cutting and fiscal responsibility. Therefore, when
he himself gets sick, he has to share a hospital room. Really, despite
any supposed PR hits that Edwin's assistant — nicely underplayed by Will
& Grace vet Sean Hayes — insists would come because Edwin wants his own
room despite the fact that he insists others share don't really matter.
Edwin would get his own room — no questions asked. He owns the place.
we'll allow the filmmakers this little conceit, after all it is necessary to
allow Edwin to meet Carter. Morgan Freeman plays Carter — an aging
family man who has smoked his entire life and worked hard as an auto
mechanic to provide for his large brood, giving up his own dreams in the
they hate each other, but eventually with the shared death sentence, these
two very different men start to bond and talk about their lives.
they make a "bucket list" — a group of experiences that they wanted to have
before they kick the bucket. They both realize that they have a little
time and Edwin has a lot of money, so they jet off on his plane to do
everything they had always wanted to.
they skydive, race cars, visit the French Riviera and Himalayas and try to
forget that they have months to live. However, of course that
realization is always in the background, giving even the lightest moments an
air of pathos — which becomes a tiny bit overwhelming in the obviously
Bucket List is a little bit of a bounce-back for director Rob Reiner.
Not that he has that much to do — his stars carry all the really heavy
baggage. However, even if Reiner's workmanlike job here is not going
to make anyone forget some of his early classics (When Harry Met Sally,
This Is Spinal Tap, The Sure Thing, Stand By Me, A Few Good Men) at
least this new film and his last flawed-but-watchable movie Rumor Has It
seem to be showing him to be on a bit of an upswing after the dregs of the
last decade or so (North, Alex & Emma, The Story of Us, Ghosts of
None of what happens is
terribly surprising, though most of it is pleasant. In fact the only
surprise in the film is which man dies first — and that is only a surprise
because the movie cheats a little, with a broad hint early on that the other
guy kicks first.
The Bucket List is
manipulative and rather hard to believe — and yet at the same time it
worked for me. Sometimes you just have to give yourself in to the
story or not. As long as you can get over being played like a violin, you
probably will like The Bucket List.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2008 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: January 11, 2008.