Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman, Sean Hayes, Beverly Todd, Rob Morrow, MaShae Alderman, Verda Bridges, Lauren Cohn, Jennifer Defrancisco, Alfonso Freeman
Written by: Justin Zackham
Directed by: Rob Reiner
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, including a sexual reference
Running Time: 98
Date: 12/16/2007

The Bucket List (2007)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

A 'Bucket' of Thud

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Rob Reiner brings another of this season's disease-of-the-week movies, though he makes an admirable attempt to add a measure of comedy and lightness. Most of this comes in the form of wealth fantasies: driving expensive cars, traveling in private jets and staying in fabulous hotels. Two elderly cancer patients, Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) and Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) share a hospital room. Cole privatizes hospitals for a living and is very wealthy; it's supposed to be ironic that, because of his own rules, he can't get a private room. Carter is an intelligent trivia nut who gave up his dreams to be a teacher so that he could work as a mechanic and provide for his family. Both curmudgeons, the two men form a bond and decide to go on an adventure, checking off the items on their "bucket list," (i.e. a list of things to do before you kick the bucket). It plays like a normal romantic comedy, with the characters each working through the other's rough spots. Then we get the betrayal, followed by the slow reconciliation and genuine reform. As written by Justin Zackham, it's all fairly routine, and the film falls back too easily on hospital scenes and cancer talk for easy sentiment. But the enormous skill and presence of these two actors, as well as their excellent chemistry, goes a long way towards making a reasonable entertainment.

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