Kickin' the Bucket: In Rob Reiner's new film, The Bucket List, two terminally ill patients decide to live life the way they've always wanted and show each other a thing or two about what each other has been missing in his own life. It sounds trite and overdone, and it is. However the strength and real acting of the two leads are what keeps this film a step above a movie-of-the-week sudser.
Jack Nicholson plays hospital owner Edward Cole. Cole has cancer and seems to have more money than Donald Trump and when he ends up as a patient in his own hospital, he is flabbergasted that he doesn't have a private room. Instead he is forced to share his space with another cancer patient, Carter Chambers, played by Morgan Freeman.
The film has some good writing and the two characters do a lot of the typical I'm-dying-so-I-have-to-do-this things such as skydiving, seeing the Taj Mahal and sitting on top of the Pyramids. It's not a great film; it's not even a good film but it is a fast moving and entertains just enough to keep one interested. Let's face it, the film won't win any awards but Nicholson is clearly acting in a role in which he is almost guaranteed an Academy Award nomination (it would be his 13th). Although, I must admit, I tend to forget how good Nicholson is at playing a "nice" guy; one who is not a mobster or dangerous.
Considering this is the first time Nicholson and Freeman have acted together, one would think that there would have been fireworks instead of sparklers. And, being a Rob Reiner film, and one in which the two lead characters are dying, the director does pull out almost all the stops for the tears. The only character that I found wanting to see more of was Edward's assistant Thomas, played by Will & Grace's Sean Hayes. As the pooped upon, long suffering assistat, Thomas gives the crap right back to Nicholson's Edward. And though Hayes is basically wasted, he does give the role his most oomph. What would have really elevated this film is if Nicholson and Freeman had swapped roles; now that would have been interesting.
See The Bucket List for two powerhouse actors; just don't expect to be blown away.
Bags of popcorn (out of 5): 2.5