By Tyler Gilliam
Rob Reiner’s latest project, The Bucket List, is a comedy about two men of advanced years who become fast friends and set out on a globe-trotting trip doing things most of us could only dream about. Oh, and they happen to be dying of cancer and trying to do everything before they “kick the bucket.” Charming concept for a comedy, eh? As the film opens, we hover through snow-covered terrain to the familiar voice of Morgan Freeman who, of course, narrates the picture.
With no penguins in sight, we begin to follow the story of the terminally ill odd couple. Freeman plays auto mechanic Carter Chambers, who is a devoted family man and walking encyclopedia. Jack Nicholson plays wealthy businessman, Edward Cole, who is four-times divorced and completely self-absorbed. Cole even has the audacity to rename the people around him, like his snide assistant Matthew (played by Sean Hayes), who he calls Tommy.
The Bucket List familiarizes us with our heroes then promptly sentences them to death. The men wind up sharing a hospital room and similar prognoses: months, maybe a year, to live. And what would you do if you were short on time and sharing a room with a guy who is filthy stinking rich? Road trip! The plot sounds familiar, I know, but make no mistake, this is no Last Holiday.
Nicholson and Freeman do what they do best in this film. Nicholson is outlandish and over-the-top. Freeman plays calm and cool for the most part (skydiving gets the better of most of us).
The best part of the movie was really the depth of the characters and their interaction with each other.
The Bucket List isn’t just about death; it’s about life. The polar opposites, even in their old age, learn from one another. From eating caviar in France to singing Simon and Garfunkel in the African savanna, the two manage to grow and bond during their short time together.
Edward learns the importance of a family that he’d long abandoned, and Carter relearns how to appreciate his. They live more in the last days of their lives than most do in a lifetime.
But The Bucket List looks like the producers spent the whole of their budget on talent rather than production.
The exotic locations were all provided by green-screen technology. Scenes like the Taj Mahal looked to be painted on a wall in the back of the studio (Wizard of Oz?).
The worst part isn’t that it happened in just one time, but scene after scene had background imagery that stood out like a zit on prom night. It was difficult at times to move past the poor production and enjoy the dialogue; however, the film is still worth the price of admission.
I wouldn’t put watching The Bucket List on my bucket list, but I would definitely go see it. With Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman on the bill, there’s no way to make a bad movie. I’d watch those guys eat a sandwich for two hours.