The Bucket List may not be the worst film of 2007 (2008 for Seattle), but it is easily the worst film coming from such a pedigree: Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman star and Rob Reiner directs (okay, Reiner hasn’t been a sign of quality for years now; really, what happened?). The film is a dying wish fantasy with two old men (only one of these old men is grumpy) facing terminal illness, and one of them (the grumpy one, of course) a conveniently placed billionaire to fund the whole deal.
Chambers (the reflective mechanic played by Morgan Freeman) inadvertently reviews the film in a remarkably prescient comment lobbed at Nicholson’s tiresome character: “Edward, I’ve taken baths deeper than you.” He could have been talking about the lukewarm bath of a film he found himself in.
As Chambers reminds us, the bucket list — an inventory of things to do before you kick the bucket — is “supposed to be a metaphor,” but this is a film that takes everything literally. Cole uses his unlimited checkbook to make Chambers’ dreams come true with a barnstorming world tour by private jet of the wonders of the world. They are spectacularly un-wondrous scenes, no thanks to conspicuously indifferent computer effects to match the film’s glib insincerity.
These two cutely eccentric movie oldsters verbally parry, philosophize and bond over dinners in Paris and motorcycling across the Great Wall of China. And for all Cole’s spiritual apathy — strange in itself considering his library of inspirational literature — that old cliche rears its familiar head: Just as in foxholes, there are no atheists in American movies about terminal illness.
The review is at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer here.
Also this week: capsule reviews of the documentaries War Made Easy and Billy the Kid and the surprisingly endearing Japanese juvenile romantic drama Honey and Clover, co-starring Yu Aoi of Hula Girls and Hana and Alice.
The gentle conflicts and easy rhythms and small triumphs over personal adversity are low-key almost to a fault, and the smitten stares and unrequited crushes and creative crises suggest high school melodrama as much as young-adult drama, but that restraint also is part of its comfortable charm. It’s cute and sweet without getting saccharine and avoids the contrived complications of American stories of students charging the emotional and sexual minefields of adult relationships and responsibilities (no one here even makes out, let alone sleeps together).
All three capsule reviews can be found here.