It's a sad fact that some people go to the movies with the firm and steady desire not to be surprised. They don't care that the essence of good story-telling is the twist that's both surprising and inevitable: they want to know what they're getting, and that's all they want to get. For those people, we have The Bucket List. Jack Nicholson plays a feisty, randy old bugger (once again) while Morgan Freeman plays a wise and worldly gentlemen of advanced age (as usual) who find themselves sharing a hospital room as the pair of them face death from terminal illness. Fortunately, Jack's character is amazingly rich, while Morgan's character is worldy wise, so together they decide to make a list of all the things they want to do before they die and then spend a fortune doing them across the globe. And so they do, bickering all the while even as they gradually become firm friends, and for anyone who though this film might decide to lay off the cliches the news just gets worse as they each decide to heal the others emotional problems. Those of a sour disposition might wonder how a terminally ill man of 60-something could go skydiving and not bust a hip, or bed a stewardess a third his age (not a highlight of the film), or do pretty much anything else this film has Morgan and Jack doing. Those of a cynical nature might query how open to letting a near-stranger tell them how to live their lives someone of their age would really be. But they'd both be missing the point: this is a silly, feel-good fairy tale designed to do nothing more than hit buttons worn dull by familiarity for ninety minutes. If that sounds okay to you, go for it.
Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #421)