A review of “The Bucket List” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: *

Rating: PG-13 for language and mature themes

Run Time: A mercifully brief 1 hour, 37 minutes

 

 

Even the one-two punch of A-list heavyweights Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman can’t save this terminal tearjerker from itself.

Edward Cole (Nicholson) is a cantankerous health-care mogul who owns the hospital where he’s being treated for inoperable cancer. As he famously peddles equality in the workplace Cole is forced to share a room with dying auto mechanic Carter Chambers (Freeman).

Chemo treatments and close quarters offer the pair of grumpy old men plenty of opportunity to share their disappointments and their dreams. Which flow like lifeblood once both are handed fatal prognoses of a year.

What would you do with unlimited resources and twelve months to live? Cole and Chambers buddy up on a kicking-the-bucket wish list that includes skydiving, race car driving and such wonders of the world as The Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China. Egypt’s lofty Pyramids and biker tattoos thrown in for good measure.

Exotic ports of call read like a Bob Hope/Bing Crosby “Road” picture – lensed on a Hollywood sound stage and belittling whatever dramatic edge might be proffered by a healthy dose of reality.

Speaking of which Cole and Chambers appear miraculously cured of malignant cells and their ugly side effects during their symptom-free round the world odyssey, a comic road show that makes the grave mistake of turning soft(er) by digging into notions of reconciliation and regret.

Still sounds like fun, no? No. Under the leaden direction of Rob Reiner “Bucket” plays like molasses on meds; slow, superficial and sapped of any spark that might be generated by lifestyles of the rich and famous or decades of dramatic experience in front of the camera.

On paper wild and crazy Nicholson and smooth as silk Freeman seem the ultimate Odd Couple; Jack’s yappy yin to Morgan’s Zen yang. But madcap bluster takes a back seat to moronic scripting so painful I have to believe that Reiner was calling in favors or Nicholson needed a redo on his Mulholland Drive manse. Ugh.