Monday, December 10, 2007

God, the Devil, and Bucket

Alternate title: Jack and dyin'. But I liked the one I chose better. Think of Bruce/Evan Almighty and The Witches of Eastwick and you'll see what I mean.

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 Oscar holiday schedule, this film opens in Los Angeles and New York City on Christmas Day, and people anywhere else will have to wait until January 11 at the very least. (Sticking it to a bad system: just one of the many reasons I choose the advanced screening route.)

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.

1 comment:

free tv shows said...

This is great movie. One of the most fun and uplifting films of the year, Rob Reiner's The Bucket List is also a likely contender for Academy Award nominations.