Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Film Review: The Bucket List

The Bucket List is about the importance of living life as if each moment could be your last.

Anyone who believes there’s any truth in that sentiment should make sure they steer well clear of this soulless, sappy and groaningly immature film.

Jack Nicholson plays Edward, a cocksure gazillionaire whose success in business has come at the cost of his own family. When felled by cancer, Edward is treated in a hospital that he owns and, for reasons best left unexplained, instead of having his own private ward, he winds up sharing a tiny, dingy room with Morgan Freeman.

Freeman plays Carter, a bright academic who was forced to trade his dreams of becoming a history professor for a career as a car mechanic when he accidentally knocked his girlfriend up.

Suffering from the same illness, the two become unlikely pals and when it turns out that Carter has a list of things he would like to do before he kicks the bucket, Edward embraces the idea. “Hell, all I have is money,” the rich white man announces, as he offers to treat the poor black man to a round the world trip. The list consists of skydiving, getting tattoos, driving fast cars, visiting the pyramids and climbing a Himalayan mountain.

Freeman and Nicholson wheeze and stagger around the globe, trotting out a load of juvenile drivel (“We live. We die. The wheels on the bus go around and around”). The two, who lets not forget, are convalescing from courses of chemotherapy, are somehow able to jump out of planes and climb mountains. It seems more likely that their primary concerns would’ve been keeping down a full meal and having a triumphant bowel movement. That might not have made for a great movie, but it wouldn’t have been any worse than this one.

Another huge failing is that Edward and Carter’s grand world tour obviously never leaves the Hollywood soundstage. When the pair are stood in front of the pyramids they don’t look any more convincing than the horse from The Village Of Gwangi.

The underused supporting cast consists of Sean Hayes, Beverly Todd and Rob Morrow, but the focus remains on our doddery leads throughout. Nicholson, his shaved head making him look uncomfortably similar to Gary Glitter, has never been less inspired. Freeman, ever the ersatz screen-sage, is at his stiffest and most banal, evoking neither complexity nor earthiness with his words, merely boredom.

On and on this terrible film trundles, bringing with it tears, laughter and family reconciliations, before reaching its all-too-obvious conclusion. By the end it has said nothing about dying, nothing about dignity and nothing about mortality.

In fact, there’s only one thing you can take from this film: cancer might be awful, but it’s not as bad as The Bucket List.

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