The Bucket List (2007)
I guess most of us will have to admit that we have now reached a stage where the appearance of Morgan Freeman's voiceover at the start of a film is just as likely to be an omen as a hallmark. In Rob Reiner's The Bucket List it doesn't turn out half as bad as it could. Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson enjoy each other's company (although it seems the former has a bit too much respect for the latter) in this lighthearted comedy about two terminally cancerous men about 70-ish who decide to use their remaining time to do stuff they never had gotten around to do previously in their lives. So they parachute off a plane, race Shelbys at a racing track, and travel around the world - crossing off the items on their "bucket list" as they complete the tasks.
Rob Reiner has never been the most subtle of directors, and I suspect he is aware of this himself. And for that reason, The Bucket List never tries too hard to deal with the graver aspects of its subject matter. This is a joyous film, first and foremostly meant to encourage - in any which way it can. And it manages to do so in a dignified way, without ever pretending to make the most profound statements. That doesn't mean that Reiner eludes the discussions of death or disease, but it means that he wants to focus on life and what it might bring as long as it is there. My father, who was also a victim of terminal cancer, largely subscribed to that way of thinking.
Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman both tread familiar waters with their performances, and although they are still a joy to watch, it surprises me somewhat to say that the acting is not necessarily The Bucket List's best asset. They both have their moments, and Nicholson is great in some crucial scenes, but the chemistry between the two veterans won't top the list of buddy movies over the years. Then again, this film probably was never meant to be a list-topper, but rather a little glimpse of light and whiff of warmth - familiar and enjoyable Rob Reiner territory.