Let me ask you a question, if you could know the date or at least the approximate time frame of when you were going to die, would you want to? If you did choose to find out, would you live out the remainder of your days in fear of that final moment, or regretting things you may or may not have had the chance to do? On the other hand, would you take whatever time you were allotted to do your best to live your life to its fullest potential? That is a question, and is essentially the basic theme, that is presented in the new comedy/drama “The Bucket List” starring Morgan Freeman (“The Dark Knight”) and Jack Nicholson (“The Departed”).
“The Bucket List” is the story of two complete strangers, one is a cantankerous billionaire named Edward (Jack Nicholson), and the other is a very kind and wise mechanic named Carter (Morgan Freeman), who find themselves in the same depressing situation when they discover they both have the same prognosis… cancer. Rather than letting this sort of news send them headlong into the depths of depression, these two men embark on an inspiring journey to see and experience many of the world’s greatest sights and adventures; showing to everyone around them that just because your time is short, that does not mean your life is over already.
Director Rob Reiner (“A Few Good Men”), along with writer Justin Zackham, have done a very good job of balancing an incredibly serious subject matter that hits close to home for many viewers, while at the same time injecting the story with a hefty dose of humor to lift the mood of the film. For some, mixing such a serious subject with comedy may seem offensive or disrespectful, but the story never becomes so humorous that the primary subject ever becomes watered down or treated lightly. I also like that along with the very well-written story, the movie poses some thought-provoking questions that will cause you to think about whether you would like to know when or how you will die, and what exactly you would do with that knowledge. It is always nice when a movie is willing to become a little more than just entertainment and good storytelling, allowing itself to create some form of discussion over its subject matter or themes.
Regarding the stars of the film, it’s not surprising that the two lead actors do a terrific job, after all both are veterans of the film business, and their performances have never once disappointed me in any film. Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman were the absolute perfect choices to play these two characters; and through their growing friendship, respect for each other, and the realistic problems and challenges they must face, along with the cleverly written dialogue, we are effectively drawn into their lives, easily relating to and becoming emotionally invested in them. Actor Sean Hayes, best known for TV’s “Will and Grace”, is the witness to the inspiring adventure these newfound friends embark upon, and his own sarcasm fits in perfectly with Edward’s sardonic nature and Carter’s keen intellect and quick wit. Every member of the cast did an excellent job of gracefully moving back and forth between the serious nature of the disease plaguing the two leads’ lives and the humorous moments spread throughout the film, never once failing to appropriately portray either side of the situation.
“The Bucket List” is the perfect example of what has been dubbed a dramedy by many people; it’s a mixture of a drama and comedy, never becoming solely one or the other. The cast is perfect, giving the characters a depth and realism that is needed for a film such as this; the script is well-written and crafted to perfectly balance the gravity of the situation with some light-hearted humor. Overall, this is just a really good movie that will undoubtedly hit closer to home for some more than others, but it still should be seen, as it is an inspiring example of not letting your life’s circumstances, grave or otherwise, get the best of you.
“The Bucket List” is rated PG-13 for language and sexuality and violence.