Films that deal with death and dying are often risky propositions that if not navigated carefully can quickly become overly-sappy and sentimental. The latest film to tread these sensitive waters is “The Bucket List” starring veteran Oscar-winners Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.
Freeman stars as a mechanic, Carter Chambers who discovers he has terminal cancer and has less than a year to live. He is forced to share a hospital room with a cantankerous executive, Edward Cole (Nicholson), who shares the identical diagnosis. With not much time left, the two men from different backgrounds find common ground in each other’s impending demise.
Instead of simply fading away, the two men embark on a glorious adventure when Cole observes Chambers working on his “bucket list.” The list of things that should be accomplished before each man “kicks the bucket,” starts off as a sentimental lark which evolves to a life-altering pursuit. While both men pursue their passions they both discover the true meaning of life.
Directed by Rob Reiner and written by Justin Zackham, “The Bucket List” is a rousing triumph and a testament to the superb acting abilities of both Nicholson and the great Freeman who also lends his “golden” voice as the film’s narrator. Beverly Todd and Sean Hayes support the dynamic duo with solid supporting efforts.
It would be easy to look at the casting of three-time Oscar winner and industry bad-boy, Nicholson and the consummate actor’s actor, Freeman and assume that together they could carry the film. In this case, you’d be right but their on-screen chemistry and the story’s inspirational and uplifting message makes for a winning combination.
While some may dismiss the film’s “live each day to its fullest mantra,” The Bucket List is a sober rendering of life’s lessons at the end by two different men who find their common humanity and help us to appreciate the meaning of our own existence. That alone is worth more than a simple drop in the “bucket.”