By: The Dweeb
The Bucket List is not your typical comedy film starring two of Hollywood’s biggest heavyweights. I’d imagine that the marketers had a really tough time trying to come up with a way to sell this film as a comedy given the subject matter is well, actually quite depressing and sad. I was expecting more of the screwball type comedy where we watch two old men do things that men of their age should never do. Instead, director Rob Reiner takes us on a heartwarming journey of discovery and along the way these two discover something new about themselves, that in the end you can come home even at the end of a long life. This film definitely will make you think about your own life, and will make you ask yourself if you will be satisfied with how you lived yours. Sure the film has some great moments and is funny, but always hovering in the background is an element of sadness.
The film does tug at the ole heartstrings because the characters are so likeable, and could probably only be pulled off by none other than Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Jack is the billionaire crank Edward Cole who is finally reeled in by terminal cancer and is forced to share a room with philosopher mechanic Carter (“Is that your first or last name?” “First.”) who is also diagnosed with a terminal cancer. They both are given several months to live. In response, they set out to accomplish items from a list to make their lives complete before they leave this world.
Naturally, money is no object so accomplishing the many stunts like skydiving, race car driving and traveling the world are no problem. Some of this stuff is just hilarious. Along the way, the shared experiences of the two men tie them together, and they each learn something about themselves, this is where it gets all touchy feely. But I have to say it doesn’t delve that deeply into this kind of territory, it remains on the lighthearted side.
I have to say, as old as these two farts are getting, Nicholson and Freeman have great on screen chemistry, with an Odd Couple sort of vibe. Jack is an expert in playing the cranky old man, it fits him like a glove. That must come naturally for him. To watch him beat up his poor personal assistant Thomas (Sean Hayes) and the others around him makes for great scenes. “Have I fired you yet today?” Faced with his own mortality, the chinks in his armor start to appear. Hey, he really can be a nice guy!
Morgan Freeman playing the almost retired mechanic Carter is his typical wise, been through the meat grinder of a hard life character. You could say this is his forte as he has been in this type of role since almost forever. He also is a lexicon of knowledge and history, providing an ongoing commentary of trivia, answers to Jeopardy questions, and probably the more stable personality in this duo. Where Edward is more of a maverick, Carter is clearly the more cautious type and most be pushed occasionally. But he does push back at Edward at the end of the film to see the light, in a manner of speaking.
The film itself is fairly standard technically speaking. Some of the cinematography is quite well done, even if it is probably created inside a computer. It was hard to tell in certain scenes. Why Warner Bros. still insists on creating these abominable fullscreen flipper discs is beyond me. Yes, its a useless flipper and the extras are clearly lacking. The only items included are a John Mayer music video and a short featurette interviewed about writing The Bucket List. Frustrating it further, more extras can be viewed on the DVD-rom so a computer with net access is mandatory. Could they have not put the deleted scenes on the disc? Obviously this is geared toward the Netflix crowd.
Aside from the poor DVD packaging, I think this is a good heartwarming film that is very enjoyable. Its definitely worth checking out to see these two legendary actors in action.