The Bucket List
After four decades as one of cinema’s most personable superstars, Jack Nicholson deserves the extended curtain call he gets in The Bucket List, even if it is sentimental, mawkish and manipulative. Ideally cast as filthy rich old codger Edward Cole, Nicholson and his fellow patient, trivia-fanatic Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) find themselves diagnosed with terminal cancer, and decide to go out with a bang rather than a whimper.
To structure their foray into the last chance saloon, Chambers draws up a ‘bucket list’, a wish list of to-die-for male-bonding activities, which includes racing hot rod cars, going skydiving and seeing a great sunset. Justin Zackham’s script runs through the possibilities mechanically, but Rob Reiner’s film derives power largely through Nicholson’s let-it-all-hang-out performance, particularly in hospital scenes which recall the epic confrontations with authority featured in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
The Bucket List is too bland to bear comparison to either film, but Nicholson’s devilish persona brings a comic edge to the action, slicing through an unfortunate lackey with the withering put-down: ‘Nobody cares what you think.’ And Freeman offers restrained support in a straight-man role, which pays off when the only surprise in Zackham’s script comes in the final act. The Bucket List is to Jack Nicholson what True Grit was to John Wayne – a greatest hits reprise that rouses its ageing audience to come around one more time and see a fat old man steal the show.
General release from Fri 15 Feb.