By Clint Morris
About 15 minutes into â€œThe Bucket Listâ€, Morgan Freemanâ€™s character lists the worst parts of chemotherapy : vomiting non-stop, veins turning black, and of course, the days where you just feel like blowing your brains out. I couldnâ€™t help but think half the audience watching said pic knew exactly what that felt like â€“ after all, â€œThe Bucket Listâ€ is one of those films that definitely wonâ€™t sit well with everyone – about ten minutes into it thereâ€™ll be more than a few stomachs churning.
Not to say Rob Reinerâ€™s new warm-and-fuzzy dramedy is a poor film, it isnâ€™t, itâ€™s just that itâ€™s a certain type of film â€“ a popcorn pleaser thatâ€™s so overtly sweet, and cheekily button-pushy, itâ€™d turn anyone into a diabetic by itâ€™s end. Some love â€˜sweetsâ€™ like this, but then others â€“ usually critics or another equally fussy minority â€“ just canâ€™t stomach the syrup.
If youâ€™re not a fan of the â€˜flossâ€™, youâ€™ll definitely need some quick-eze after licking from this wooden spoon.
At the same time, if you are in the mood for an easy-to-watch and well-performed (câ€™mon, itâ€™s Jack and Morgan! Could you do any better?!) serve of comfort food, then by all means, grab yourself a dessert spoon.
In the film, two terminally ill men escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die. Of course, what they really should be doing is spending their remaining days with their family â€“ it takes them a few postcards to realise it.
One would probably have expected a film by Rob Reiner (â€œMiseryâ€, â€œA Few Good Menâ€, â€œWhen Harry, Met Sallyâ€) and starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as two cancer victims who head off on a wild road trip together, to be anything but â€˜fluffâ€™ â€“ in fact, youâ€™d think itâ€™d be an Oscar contender. Sadly, itâ€™s not. Sure, parts of it are good â€“ the first half-hour is solid, and the finale is rather sweet â€“ but the majority of it is patchy at best.
The film seems unsure what it wants to be â€“ is it a drama? Is it a buddy comedy (like â€œGrumpy Old Menâ€)? Is it a road movie? Or is itâ€¦ dare I say, the god-awful â€œIn-Lawsâ€ remake from a couple of years back reworked for Nicholson and Freeman? Itâ€™s a little of all those things, and it doesnâ€™t work. Blame the writer, I say.
Justin Zackhamâ€™s script is rushed (he doesnâ€™t develop the characters at all!), manipulative (â€œcry here, folks!â€; â€˜laugh here, folks!â€) and far from the standard that Nicholson and Freeman are used to. The most annoying aspect of it though is the clunky middle, where our characters journey around the world â€“ or rather, a series of cheap-looking soundstage backdrops dressed up to look like Paris, Egyptâ€¦ what have you.
What saves â€œThe Bucket Listâ€ from being a film only your unfussy-Nana-who-hasnâ€™t-been-to-the-cinema-since-M*A*S*H would love is â€“ well, Jack and Morgan, but also â€“ the underlying theme : the always effective statement to â€œlive your life to the mostâ€.
A sweet message â€“ but not exactly something that gets the heart tick of approval.
A Featurette and Music Video (Extras Unpreviewed)