Friday, January 25, 2008

The Bucket List

I want to like this movie, and part of me does. The part of me that loves everything Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson does anyway. The part of me that judges movies purely on their own merit doesn't like this movie. I suppose I'll be able to find some sort of compromise between these two halves.

This is sort of a cross between Grumpy Old Men, and Shawshank Redemption. Jack Nicholson plays Edward Cole, a billionaire tycoon who develops cancer, and has to stay at the very hospital he owns (feeling the wrath of his own cost-cutting). He gets put in a room with terminal patient, Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman). The two form an unlikely bond as they develop "the bucket list," or the list of things to do before they die. This takes them on worldwide tour, visiting everything from the pyramids to France.

Of course the two of them learn more about themselves in this short time than in the entire rest of their lives. Edward questions whether he's had a positive or negative impact on this world, and Carter has to decide which is more important, his adventures, or his family. The chemistry between them is what is reminiscent of Grumpy Old Men, and the Shawshank aspect comes in with Freeman's inner monologue musings. Unfortunately, neither character really has anything interesting to say, though just listening to Nicholson and Freeman talk is nothing short of an enjoyable experience.

Everything in this movie is just contrived. I found myself saying half of the lines before they did. And other lines that were intended to be poignant were really just kind of random. Rob Reiner has had a mixed career for me. I have to give him credit, he's done more than his fair share of wonderful movies (Spinal Tap, Misery, Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, the list just goes on), but he's also had his share of crap (North, Alex and Emma, Rumor Has It).

Some parts are just too absurd for its own good. The two of them go skydiving and race-car driving? And just a few scenes before Carter's catheter comes loose? Something about that just a tad bit too far fetched. I can understand the point of the characters not accepting their limitations, but honestly- taking race cars off jumps?

It's almost worth it just to see Freeman and Nicholson together. There was a little added bit os sentimentality with two of America's finest actors opposite each other- especially because they're both over seventy. In the back of my mind I couldn't help but feel sad about that dark day when we lose these two. I'm sure that wasn't the point of the movie, but it did help to draw me in. If you want a good old fashioned buddy picture with two fantastic actors, see the Bucket List. But I strongly recommend you wait for video, because as good as they are, acting will not carry a bad script.


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