The Bucket List (2008)

With Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson in it, *The Bucket List* has a promising cast. Too bad the movie doesn't let these two do anything novel or particularly interesting. Nicholson plays Edward Cole, a rascally, oft-married, self-absorbed billionaire CEO who runs hospitals. Ha ha, he winds up in one of his own hospitals, only to find out he can't have a private room because it's company policy. He grudgingly shares a room with Morgan Freeman's Carter Chambers, a brilliant autodidact and self-sacrificing auto mechanic who gave up his dreams of higher education to provide for his family. Carter is yet another saintly character for Freeman, who has already played God twice. (He ought to branch out a little and play a devil for a change.) Edward is cruel to everyone and an almost insufferable egomaniac, but he's more interesting than Carter, whose most pronounced quirk is that he loves to watch *Jeopardy!* and always knows all the answers. Like Edward, Carter has terminal cancer. The two men bond over their disease, apparently, since they have nothing else in common except geographical proximity. They write a "bucket list," a list of things to do before they kick the bucket, and set out to do them.

Luckily, since Edward is filthy stinkin' rich, nothing is out of reach. Too bad these two geniuses, with the world at their feet, can't come up with a list that isn't full of cliches. Drive a race car; go skydiving; get a tattoo; climb the mighty Himalayas. This is a list for a dying twelve year old. At least half of *The Bucket List* is spent in the hospital, which is perhaps the best indication of just how anemic and uninspiring the list turns out to be. They see a fair number of the seven wonders of the world, but those wonders have rarely seemed less wonderful. *The Bucket List* winds up being a kind of road trip/travelogue, with screenwriter Justin Zackham throwing in a smidge of self-help book philosophizing to give this feel good/feel bad movie a teensy bit of meaning. 

As might be expected, the wise Carter has much to teach Edward about the meaning and value of life, etc. During their spanning-the-globe adventure, Carter is the tour guide, a font of historical and geographical knowledge, as well as an expert on the sage wisdom of the ancients as regards the afterlife. It's no surprise that the movie arranges it so that Carter's got a thing or two to learn as well, although his character, who up and leaves his loving family behind for a last hurrah during his final days, is not especially believable, and the lessons he learns would fit quite nicely on a "Thinking of You" Hallmark card.

Director Rob Reiner might want to take a lesson or two from his former, brilliant self (see *This is Spinal Tap* and *The Princess Bride*) and put "make another great movie" on his own bucket list. *The Bucket List* can go on his list of movies that should have been (but probably could not have been) better.