Movie Review: The Bucket List (2007)

Rob Reiner has surfaced again, directing arguably two of the most accomplished actors of our time: Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. The vehicle: The Bucket List, a comedy drama that tries to add a new twist to the Odd Couple scenario. Instead of just throwing together two incompatible people, as so many movies have already done, the setup is to put two dying, disparate men together to partake in their unfulfilled fantasies.

It all starts when Edward Cole (Nicholson) finds himself sharing a cramped hospital room with Carter Chambers (Freeman) in own of his very own hospitals. Cole, it turns out, is a ruthless billionaire who makes his money buying failing medical facilities and returning them to profitability (done by firings, cramped living spaces and crummy food). Chambers is a simple auto-mechanic with a penchant for knowing all the useless knowledge one could hope to know (remember Ken Jennings?). What they have in common is that both have incurable cancer and a finite amount of time left on the planet. To make the most out of it, they create a list – The Bucket List – of things to do before they kick the bucket. It includes simple entries like:

  • laugh til you cry
  • skydive
  • drive a Shelby Mustang
  • get a tattoo
  • help a complete stranger for the good

It also includes more robust entries like:

  • visit the Taj Mahal
  • see Rome
  • hunt lions in Africa
  • see the pyramids
  • climb Mt. Everest

During these interludes, both share intimate knowledge of the their lives with one another, each offering their own thoughts and views to the others’ dilemma. One or two are thought provoking, but mostly they’re put in place to remind us that The Bucket List is more than just a movie about two old guys living it up as they travel all over the globe. This is ultimately where the movie becomes unglued. Reiner should have set the childish antics and globetrotting as the aside to the personal struggle these guys and their families were experiencing.

This however, doesn’t take away from the strong performances by the stars. Sean Hayes (whom I couldn’t stand in Will & Grace) has a few remarkable scenes as Cole’s personal assistant Thomas. But obviously this film is really the Jack & Morgan show and they don’t fail to deliver. Nicholson is always a great crotchety wise-ass and Freeman is always the stalwart diplomat. They’re not quite as good as Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, but they’re good nonetheless. From what I can tell this was the first movie that stars both men and from my point of view it was long overdue.

So even though The Bucket List doesn’t really force us to face our mortality in quite the manner it means to, it does manage to drive home the idea that there are plenty of things to get done before the reaper comes a knockin’. From the words of another fantastic Freeman character, Andy Dufresne (from The Shawshank Redemption): “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
3 Star Rating: Average


Movie Review: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)
Movie Review: National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007)

The Critical Movie Critics

I'm an old, miserable fart set in his ways. Some of the things that bring a smile to my face are (in no particular order): Teenage back acne, the rain on my face, long walks on the beach and redneck women named Francis. Oh yeah, I like to watch and criticize movies.

'Movie Review: The Bucket List (2007)' have 8 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 1, 2008 @ 9:11 pm Will

    First I’ve herd fo this movie. Gonna check it out cos Jack is back! I can’t think of any shit flicks he’s ever been in.

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 3, 2008 @ 2:32 pm TB

    This didnt look ‘that bad’, atleast not by the trailers. I completely agree with some of the points you made about it though. I might see it in the future.

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 4, 2008 @ 5:23 pm Video

    I love both Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Also Alfonso Freeman is in this movie too.
    I can hardly wait to see the movie.
    Good review.

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 14, 2008 @ 11:36 am Gearhead

    A pretty good film. Although, I agree that It would have been better without the cheesy goofing around scenes. I understand that enjoying the rest of their life was their goal, but the way those scenes were done, made it feel like it belonged more in a cheesy made for teens movie.

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 23, 2008 @ 9:15 pm joe

    watching this excellent movie put one thought in my head right away. live now. this movie about two old men who find that they are suddenly at the end of their rope discover each other and their philosophy of life. they go on a journey which may be simple but just getting the chance to do all you’ve ever wanted would send a chill up your spine. this movie is a great movie for it will make your feel every emotion you posess but most of all will make you do one thing and that is thank god for what you have.

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 24, 2008 @ 6:17 pm Steven A Myers

    Every critic I’ve read so far has, to one extent or another, panned the film. Maybe it’s my age(69), but I laughed and laughed, and thought it was one of the best films I’ve seen in the past 3-4 years. I may even have shed a tear towards the end. I also thought Bucket List was much funnier than the Matthau/Lemmon lash-ups, all of which I thought were cheap attempts at laughs. Freeman and Nicholson touched something in me and a lot of the older folks in the audience. Maybe it is that by my age I don’t fret much about death and dying, and can laugh at it. That, I suspect, is what went over the heads of the younger set. Well, they keep making films for 14-year olds, and the 14-year olds deserve them.

  7. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 26, 2008 @ 7:35 pm Judy

    I loved this movie, but then again I am 65 years old. It seems like just yesterday I was in my 20’s. Young people probably can’t relate to this movie. However, they will be there in the blink of an eye and then maybe they should watch this movie again with a fresh (but older) eye.

  8. The Critical Movie Critics

    February 21, 2008 @ 8:49 pm Chris

    I really don’t think it only affects the older generation. I am 17 and it might be my mentality is different to others my age, but i thought this film was amazing. I watch ALOT of movies, probably about 5 a week, maybe more and this film made my smile, laugh, it made my eyes water and most of all..It made me care for both Freeman and Nicholson. I give this film 9/10 easily for great acting and an all round great film. I also recommend that if you get a chance to watch it, you do.

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