Monday, December 24, 2007
Kick the Bucket
When I sit down to write a list of all the things I'd like to do before I die, high atop the sheet will be to avoid movies like The Bucket List, a soggy heartwarmer Warner Bros. opens Christmas Day. I could, and should, have planned this sooner, but Jack Nicholson pulled me in, as he usually does, so the 97 misspent minutes are on my head.
The director, Ron Reiner, has been off his game since his last picture with the actor, A Few Good Men, in 1992, and he hasn't regained his footing. Despite the brief running time, the well-meant film meanders listlessly (no pun intended) as cancerous codgers Nicholson (the rich, sybaritic one) and Morgan Freeman (boringly salt-of-the-earth as usual, right down to the sonorous narration) bolt their hospital beds for a worldwide spree: racing cars, skydiving, and visiting world capitals. This might be more meaningful if a) the characters showed more than passing signs of illness during their jaunt (Nicholson, a tub of guts, is the beefiest cancer patient ever, so much so I thought a mistaken diagnosis subplot was in the offing) and b) they were CGI-ed more fluently into their various misadventures. Like Hope and Crosby in their Road pictures heyday, I doubt they even left Burbank; the illusion that they did, which would have made the wish fulfillment fantasy concrete, is poorly realized.
Oh, and c), if there had been one surprise, in the casting, acting (fine but familiar) and direction, some twist in the tale that might have validated all the death-without-disease cliches the film parcels out. (I guess there is one, but it's more celestial than logical, and something of a cheat.) Hereby resolved: No more movies like The Bucket List. I'm already aglow with the potential of what I might accomplish in the hours I've rewarded myself with.