Opens at Kirkland Parkplace and other theaters, Fri., Jan. 11. Rated PG-13. 97 minutes.
Rob Reiner's latest film is, among other things, a reflection of our persistent cultural belief that you haven't really lived until you've ticked off a list of Earth's Greatest Hits. Jack Nicholson plays Edward, a four-times-divorced billionaire who has just been hospitalized with inoperable brain cancer. In a nice twist, he owns the hospital. Cole's roommate is Carter, a retired mechanic with an intellectual streak, played by Morgan Freeman, of course. (Writing the big boss into a shared room took a lot of maneuvering.) Carter is married to his high-school sweetheart. Edward...well, let's just say everybody hates him (see: Something's Gotta Give, As Good As It Gets). Obviously, this odd couple hits it off. Condemned to die within the year, they dash off a list of things to do before that happens and set out on a trip around the world. Like Kerouac and Cassady, this duo takes to the road mostly to escape female expectations into a masculine sphere of their own creation. At the heart of the movie is, of course, the Jack and Morgan Show. Both are skilled at squeezing emotion from a cheeseball script (as is Reiner), and the last half-hour of the film is genuinely moving. Turns out The Bucket List is a meta-film, mostly about how these two legendary actors interact and what it means to be an actor in your own life.