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The old man and the see (it before you die)

Thursday, June 20, 2019

If you were only given six to 12 months to live, how would you spend your remaining time? If you're Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, you live it up to the hilt and cross as many things off your bucket list as you can. And that's basically the plot of Rob Reiner's "The Bucket List," which serves as a comedy, drama, road movie, adventure film (of sorts), buddy picture, and philosophical feature all in one. We broke down the film last night at CineVerse and came away with these ideas:

What are this film’s strongest attributes, including elements that may have surprised you?

  • The acting chops and irresistible charisma of Jack Nicholson is fully evident. Even if you didn’t care for this film, it’s hard not to admire Jack and what he brings to the role.
    • You could make a case that Jack is simply playing Jack here: a fabulously rich man who’s had his share of fun and who enjoys living alone yet wants to continue having expensive fun.
  • The camaraderie and chemistry between Nicholson and Morgan Freeman stands out; here are two senior-aged A-list actors who command respect, gravitas and attention and who play off each other nicely.
  • The exotic locales, toys and trips are memorable. This film serves as a wish fulfillment vehicle for viewers who may never get to see or do the things these two older gentlemen experience. We can live vicariously through these characters and, even if we don’t share a terminal illness, can learn a valuable lesson about living life to the fullest.
    • Interestingly, the “bucket list” experiences and vignettes only constitute about a third of the film; the trailer and marketing campaign had many believing that this was going to be a nonstop road picture, sort of a fun action/adventure thrill ride for senior citizens. It is for a while, but not the majority of the movie, which is reserved instead for character development, poignancy and smaller details.
  • The ending, arguably, wraps up nicely and bookends the movie similarly to how it began.
Themes built into The Bucket List
  • You can’t take it with you, so enjoy life and treat yourself now.
  • It’s the little things in life that often mean the most.
  • Coming to grips with one’s own mortality and limitations.
  • Refusing to be defined or constrained by illness or physical limitations.
  • Opposites attract; consider how different Edward and Carter are racially, economically, and otherwise. The latter is married, the former is single, too.
  • Good friendships are priceless.
Other films that The Bucket List brings to mind:
  • Going In Style
  • The Intouchables
  • Last Vegas
  • Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
  • The Magic of Belle Isle
  • 50/50
  • Patch Adams
  • About Schmidt
  • As Good As It Gets
  • Gran Torino
Other films directed by Rob Reiner:
  • This is Spinal Tap
  • Stand By Me
  • The Princess Bride
  • When Harry Met Sally
  • Misery
  • A Few Good Men

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