The Bucket List
Movies about terminally ill patients are tough to make and tough to watch. There is usually a point in the film where the viewer gets attached to the dying character and at the last reel you are crushed to see their end, or you never hit that point and don’t feel anything when they die. It is a true test of a script to see if the writer can reel you into the lives of the characters and make you weep when they reach their demise. Unfortunately, this screenplay didn’t have what it takes, which is too bad considering the stellar actors he had to work with. Part of the problem was THE BUCKET LIST wasn’t sure what it wanted to be: comedy or drama.
Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) and Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) find themselves roommates in the cancer wing of a hospital and start forming a friendship during their treatments. When they both discover that they only have a short time to live, they set off to accomplish a list of goals before they “kick the bucket”. Along the way they realize the true joys in life and forge a bond that outlasts them both.
Although this plot had a lot of potential for wild and crazy things, it seemed to fall short. When you think of two old men (one of whom has an endless supply of money) that are going to die and decide to do a bunch of crazy things before they die, the mind opens up to endless possibilities. In the case of our two cancer patients you have the typical skydiving, driving a fast car and traveling to small corners of the world, which is fine, but couldn’t they come up with something a little more interesting and daring? With a little more imagination from the writer this script could have been really enjoyable.
Also, for such a deep and depressing subject there needed to be more comic relief, especially since it was advertised as a comedy. Nicholson is a great all around actor but he really excels at comedy and that wasn’t taken advantage of in this film. If he had had better lines then this movie would have done so much better at the box office. Sean Hayes was also extremely underutilized as playing an assistant to Nicholson’s overbearing character, this could have offered a lot of opportunity for great comedy. It would have been nice to see more interaction between them because their short scenes together were some of the best.
I went in hoping for more of a light-hearted movie even though I knew the subject matter was intense. Instead, I was mildly amused and left bummed out, not only because the film was mediocre (which it is) but because Nicholson and Freeman are too good to be wasting the ends of their careers on this kind of stuff.