It's nice to see Rob Reiner back in fine directorial form with The Bucket List, a film in which Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman are cancer ward patients who, while still in decent health, decide to do a make a list of things to do before they die. The film follows their adventures as they (and thankless assistant Sean Hayes) try to cross each item off.
As part of the ridiculous end-of-year
You might expect that the appeal of the film lies in its powerhouse leads. You'd be correct, but still unaware of how the marvelously simple script is so carefully crafted to play to their individual strengths. The actors aren't breaking new ground here, but rather embodying worn-to-perfection roles as would Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier, or James Garner. We get a little (not too much) of Freeman's narration as he attempts to explain the unusual friendship that frames the movie. Nicholson is funny in his much-put-upon way, and becomes a nice negative counterbalance to all that intelligence and optimism.
What's interesting is that how the film eventually confounds your expectations. Freeman turns out to be the clear lead, at least emotionally, displaying a curiously selfish desire to embrace the Bucket List and stick with it. He's a logical know-it-all that finds an obsession in the unknown. In turn, it's nice to see Nicholson being the noble one in his respectful support of Freeman's ambition to stretch beyond his boundaries of familiarity.