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The Bucket List (2008)   rating

Review: written 2008

Well constructed lightweight feel good movie

 The Bucket List (2008)

It's really virtually impossible not to like a movie with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson in it.. they add a sense of gravitas to anything they are in - and there is pleasure to be had in watching their contrasting styles spark off each other.

Here, they play two men, both suffering from cancer, sharing a room at a hospital (in a rather contrived set up). After some preamble to fleetingly show that they are actually not well, they create a bucket list - a list of things they want to do before kicking the bucket, and since one of them is rich, set out to work their way through the items, learning about themselves and each other as they go.

It works because the leads are strong, particularly Freeman. Nicholson overplays, but then the writing does call for it. It does stumble however in the script department from time to time... For example, Freeman talking to Nicholson - "You once said you're not everyone. Well, that's true-you're certainly not everyone, but everyone is everyone." It's not exactly Shakespeare. The concept of terminally ill men skydiving, climbing mountains and traveling the world somewhat while barely catching their breath also stretches credibility. Morgan Freeman does his trademark stately voice over, which only serves to remind you of The Shawshank Redemption, and the comparison is not favourable. And while the male bonding is fun to watch and some of the one-liners funny, the warmth of affection Freeman narrates for the Nicholson character never seems quite justified by anything his character does.

Those quibbles aside, it's fun, warm and fuzzy round the edges, has some decent performances, and is short enough not to outlast its welcome. Not a classic, but thumbs up nonetheless.

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