The Bucket List
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Rob Reiner
scr Justin Zackham
with Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman, Sean Hayes, Beverly Todd, Rob Morrow, Rowena King, Jennifer Defrancisco, Alfonso Freeman, Andrea Johnson, Serena Reeder, Christopher Stapleton, Roy Vongtama
release US 25.Dec.07, UK 15.Feb.08
07/US Warner 1h37
The Bucket List
Go ahead, jump: Nicholson and Freeman

nicholson freeman hayes

The Bucket List Despite a somewhat simplistic view of life and performances that don't really stretch the cast, this Capraesque film is an engaging examination of two men looking back at their lives without pity or regret.

Carter (Freeman) has made a decent living as a mechanic, and has a lively family to show for it. Edward (Nicholson) has made a fortune through private hospitals, enjoying the bachelor life but estranged from his only child. Both men are struck by cancer before retirement, and the outlook isn't good. They meet in the hospital and strike up an unlikely friendship, agreeing to face their final months head-on and making a list of things to do before kicking the bucket. So they head out on an around-the-world adventure together.

If you're going to be in this kid of situation, it helps that one of you is a billionaire with a private jet and an efficient personal assistant (Hayes) to plan every luxurious detail. These kinds of fabulous contrivances mean the film can never be more than a fable, but Reiner nicely balances the light comedy and serious drama, so we go with it. And along the way, there are a few meaningfully intense scenes between the characters, most notably Carter and his wife (Todd).

There's also terrific chemistry between Freeman and Nicholson as two spirited men from opposite sides of the tracks who actually have rather a lot in common. Both do what they do best here, and their journey together is both audacious and thoughtful. Their travelogues scenes have a Hope-Crosby cheesiness, from the Riviera to the Himalayas by way of an African safari, the Egyptian pyramids, the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall.

Besides an early bout of skydiving, this isn't a particularly adventurous adventure, sticking to the obvious tourist spots. But never mind, the more interesting journey is the internal one, and Reiner is much better at directing scenes that give Freeman and Nicholson a chance to dig into their characters to find the dark corners, doubts and bitterness. The final message is somewhat basic (about giving and receiving joy), but as a whole, the film is charming and even moving.

cert 12 themes, language, innuendo 6.Nov.07

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... The Bucket List Olie, UK: 2/5 "Utterly unwatchable, trite, possibly the most vomit inducing film ever made. Well-made, with fine acting - but for no reason at all - it has no imagination, no depth, no characters, no honesty, nothing - it is a vapid predictable horror - written in a few days by a cretin with nothing else to do. Do not ever watch this film - you have only a limited number of minutes in this life, do not waste them here. If you do watch it then I suppose the slightest of slight single gag relationship between Nicholson and his gimp might stop you setting fire to the dvd/cinema." (2.Feb.08)
2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall