Corporate billionaire Edward Cole and working class mechanic Carter Chambers have nothing in common except for their terminal illnesses. While sharing a hospital room together, they decide to leave it and do all the things they have ever wanted to do before they die according to their bucket list. In the process, both of them heal each other, become unlikely friends, and ultimately find joy in life. Written by
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 majestic.
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 ".
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