Ken's Review: The Bucket List - Funny and Heartwarming But Lacking in Quality

January 11, 2008

I miss the 80's and early 90's Rob Reiner. That was a director who picked great projects and creatively put them together. He made interesting stories wrapped in quality film making. You can credit him with some of the truly great classics, films like This Is Spinal Tap, Stand by Me, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, Misery, A Few Good Men and The American President. I love all of those movies and have seen each multiple times. It makes me wonder what happened to him in the last decade. Alex and Emma (2003) was the last film that I thought was ok but nowhere near great. Unfortunately, The Bucket List is just about the same, except with a better story.

Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) is a single, rich, egotistical, selfish man who owns a string of hospitals around the country. Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) is an extremely smart, caring, giving man who is married and works as a car mechanic. Both become sick and are diagnosed with cancer. They end up sharing a room in the hospital where they build a strong friendship as they endure their cancer treatments. One night, Chambers decided to make a bucket list, which is a list of all the things you want to do before you die. Cole stumbles upon this list and decides that with his money they could actually do all of the things on it. So, instead of continuing any more painful treatments, they set off to complete everything on the bucket list.

Jack Nicholson in a scene from The Bucket List.The Bucket List Review

The relationship that Nicholson and Freeman have in this film is truly fun to watch. They play off of each other and create many moments filled with emotion. The scenes where they shared intimate feelings and past experiences seemed honest and reflective. I have to give them both credit, because I wasn't sure if they were going to be able to pull this off.

I found the story to be heartfelt but without much depth. There are a few lessons but they all can basically be boiled down to trying to live your life without regrets. Instead, what I found worthwhile are those sincere moments between the two men. The discussions they have about life, religion, and family were interesting and enjoyable. I also appreciated they way they dealt with their situation, specifically the way they tried to laugh and still enjoy life instead of sulk and become depressed due to their illness. There were a few scenes where I found myself crying because I was laughing so hard. One scene in particular, dealing with coffee, had the whole theater laughing hysterically.

If I ended the review here, you would think this is a great film and might actually rush out to see it. But, I have to break the bad news. As a whole it was put together very poorly. Each location they visited during their journey looked extremely fake, even laughably fake. If they were actually at any of those locations, I couldn't tell. The places they went looked like a fake background on the set of some sound stage, especially one scene on top of a pyramid that looked like a painted background with paper mache bricks for them to sit on. It not only looked ridiculous but detracted from the seriousness of the scenes. I found myself, and heard others, laughing during serious parts because of the lack of quality of the surroundings.

Jack Nicholson as Edward Cole and Morgan Freeman as Carter Chambers in The Bucket List.The Bucket List Review

This was a fun drama/comedy that might have been much better had they spent a bit more time on the quality and little details. All in all, I was able to look past the ridiculous scenery and lack of depth. Instead, I focused on their relationship and the intimacy the two developed. This definitely doesn't require a theatrical viewing; I would suggest it as more of a rental. But, if you're dying to go out to the movie theater this weekend, then this will probably be your best bet and you won't walk out feeling like you wasted your hard-earned money.

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Completely disagree with Ken's review. I wholeheartedly recommend you watching this film. This made me cry like a baby 10 minutes after the credits rolled.

Heckle on Jan 11, 2008


I think that a 6.5 is much too low for this film, I never had any problems with the effects or the scenery, it might have been because I was concentrating on what the characters where saying and not looking for faults in the film, as a critic like Ken might do. For me, the story, the acting and all the fun I had during the whole movie, are much more important to rate it. This deserves at least a 8.5 in my book.

Roderick on Jan 11, 2008


I enjoyed this film, the acting and dynamic between Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freedman worked well. My favorite scene is when the two characters are in a plane looking out over the clouds and discussing their mortality and God. If you are on a long haul flight and have the dvd pop "Bucket List" in your laptop, it will definitely be an entertaining way to pass two hours, watching two outstanding actors at work.

Felicity Price on Oct 17, 2009


Was a good film, I particularly enjoyed the growing friendship between Edward Cole and Carter Chambers. I didn't notice the cheap looking scenery, thought it looked pretty realistic but then again I wasn't paying much attention to the detail of the sets, more the sterling acting of Freedman and Nicholson. Although Nicholson's character was more likely to derived his fortune as a gold bullion trader rather than an owner of hospitals, such was the scope of his financial freedom! In short thought the movie was original, would watch again.

Robert Greening on Oct 8, 2010

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