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The Bucket List (2008)

- 97 mins - ,

" If you like Freeman and/or Nicholson, and you love to have the soft spot in your heart manipulated, then you'll have a good time. It's a movie; not a mantra or a life mission. As such, it knows its crowd and plays to it. "


Starring: ,


Tagline: You only live once, so why not die with style?

Release Date: January 11, 2008


Morgan Freeman once had a philosophy professor who recommended that his students compile a "bucket list" - a collection of everything they wanted to do before they died. Freeman never did make his list. Spending 45 years greased up under the hood of a car making sure your children never want for anything has its way of putting a crimp in a man's personal goals. It's not long before Freeman and Jack Nicholson find themselves sharing a hospital, just waiting to die. They're two very different men, but they come to share a common goal - create their own bucket list and spend their remaining time doing whatever it is they want to. Defying their doctors' orders, and their own common sense, the two old codgers check out of the hospital and hit the road of adventure - traveling from the Taj Mahal to the Serengeti, eating in the finest French restaurants, slumming in seedy tattoo parlors, and racing vintage muscle cars. But marking off items from their list results in more than just accomplishing a few goals. In the process, they are faced with a few tough questions, receive their share of difficult answers, but ultimately learn some valuable lessons along the way. Two old coots ensue.


The definition of the term “bucket list” is pretty self-explanatory – it’s a compilation of things to do, places to go, and people to see prior to your kicking of the ol’ proverbial bucket. Well, I gotta be honest with you, 30 minutes into the movie I was creating my own bucket list, and the very first item was “survive the next 90 minutes without dying of boredom.” The film’s first 1/3rd treads water in a deep sea of mundanity. I don’t care if it is Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson on screen; you can only take so much of two terminally ill old men complaining, wheezing, vomiting, and hacking up blood before you’re ready to move on to the next stage of your life.

But then a funny thing happened on the way to the exit door… Freeman and Nicholson finally started piecing together their list, and I finally began to have a moderately entertaining time. Don’t expect any moments of extended originality though. This is a film that knows its target audience, wants to make that audience cry, and effectively pulls the strings to get the intended effect. I saw an ocean of gray hair in the theater, and the inhabitants of said gray hair were uproariously laughing and sniffling on cue.

While the music choices (if I hear The Lion Sleeps Tonight one more time…) and life-changing adventures (sky diving, yawn) could have been a little more inspired, at least the ever-changing landscape does provide several instances of lush cinematography to behold. And hey, it even presents a nice little message about making the most out of the time we’ve been given. Not exactly divinely inspired, I know, and nobody is putting together any heretical petitions to have it included in any future translations of the Bible, but it’ll send its octogenarian fan base to bed with a collective smile.

Will I add it to my DVD collection? Nope. But overall I accepted it for what it was and had a good time. If you like Freeman and/or Nicholson, and you love to have the soft spot in your heart manipulated, then you’ll have a good time. It’s a movie; not a mantra or a life mission. As such, it knows its crowd and plays to it.

So what are you doing with the time you’ve been given? Maximizing it? Wallowing in bitterness and self-pity? Yesterday’s gone, and none of us are promised tomorrow. Now is the time to find the joy in your life. It’d be ideal if it didn’t take the sight of Jack Nicholson’s rapidly aging body in a hospital gown to provide you with necessary inspiration, but hey, whatever gets you motivated to do something with your life…


Rated PG-13 for language, including a sexual reference, The Bucket List's main drawback is its content. This could have been a sweet, lovable film to take mama and grandma to, but then it has to drop an "f" bomb and several G-d**ns. Why? What purpose did this language serve to the story? All it did was shrink the number of people I could recommend it to. There are also a few appearances of the "s" bomb, a middle finger flash, and some coughed up blood. It's not the most profane movie you'll see, but there are plenty of moments that would make mama uncomfortable, and it's definitely not appropriate for children.

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