Written by Pollo Misterioso
Rob Reiner is good at making feel-good movies. Somehow they always make us cry and laugh during the same viewing. The Bucket List is more proof of Reiner’s working model, but it also brings up interesting views of age, life, and family.
Starring Jack Nicholson as a billionaire named Edward and Morgan Freeman as a worn-down mechanic named Carter, these two pair up as the most unlikely of friends, and it works.
Both of these men find out that they have fatal cancer and will pass away within the year. They are in the same hospital room when they are both diagnosed and decide after their short time together that they will create a “bucket list” of all the things that they want to do before they die. With that, Carter says goodbye to his wife and Edward (who obviously has enough money to do all that they desire) are off. They travel to China, to France, and even to the Himalayas for Mt. Everest. But skydiving and tattooing are also a part of the list. Then there are the more personal goals, dealing with family and the ones that you love.
Both of these actors are phenomenal. Morgan Freeman’s voice is so reassuring, that with his opening narration to the film there is a sense that this movie is for everyone. Nicholson is hilarious to watch. Some of his expressions are priceless and with one eyebrow raise, he is your best friend and your worst enemy. By casting these two well-established actors, the film becomes inviting and people want to see it.
But these actors have clearly aged and that is what the film is about. The glamour is stripped away and you are left with a new pair of best friends that have been your best friends for years. Both Freeman and Nicholson are embracing their journey through Hollywood and now they get to sit back and play aging men. Piece of cake.
Besides coming to terms with one's own death, there are many other issues of the adult world that are explored in this movie. Carter is trying to come to terms with his wife, his high school sweetheart and the only woman that he has ever been with. It is a different kind of love that he must find and come to terms with. As for Edward, he has alienated everyone that he knows and does not want to die alone.
As the men cross off each item on the list, they test themselves and each other. But as Carter says to Edward “find the joy in your life,” the audience is left to reflect on what happiness, love and our joy we have.
This film is part of the perfect formula that Reiner has produced countless times. But the thing is, it works. “The Bucket List” makes you believe in the good in people and the struggles that we all go through to become better. And that is always nice to watch.
The DVD extras for The Bucket List include an interesting interview with the screenwriter Justin Zackham called “Writing a Bucket List” about his own bucket list that he made. There is also web access when the DVD is played in a computer and John Mayer music video for the song “Say.”