Imagine you have a screenplay that you wanna turn into a movie. But the script isn’t very good. The story is far too simple to ever attract a big audience. The plot changes are so minimal you’d have a bigger chance falling asleep reading the story than actually raising an eyebrow out of interest. And the dialogues often taste dryer than desert sand.
Do you toss this script out of the window? That’s one option …
Another option is much more lucrative
You hire two of the finest actors working in the business, and you let them run amok hoping their mutual experience will provide nothing short of fireworks.
In the case of The bucket list things are quite easy to perceive.
The movie focuses on its main characters, mostly because the main characters are played by none other than Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Now, how’s that for a pairing, huh?
In the story Jack Nicholson plays an old man – well, they’re both old men, duh! – who has more money than fingers can count. I mean, the guy is truly filthy rich. He’s a corporate billionaire who owns fifteen hospitals and has everything money can buy.
But then he’s diagnosed with terminal cancer and spends his last days counting down in a room with two beds in one of his own hospitals.
On the other side of the room lies Morgan Freeman. He is not rich. He’s a working class mechanic who has spent the last 47 years getting his hands dirty bending down into the engines of broken cars waiting to be fixed.
He’s a family man. A man who has three children, a beautiful wife and all the love in the world he could possible hope for.
He too receives the terrible news that his life has been cut short to a mere few months.
The two old men couldn’t be further apart from each other. The white rich guy. The poor black family-man.
Suddenly these two strangers share a strangely similar fate which brings them closer together (granted, the fact that they’re on the same room also has something to do with it). They will get acquainted, and even start to care for one another though it’s a rough start at first.
Then one day, one of the men decides to pen down a bucket list of things he would very much like to do.
This spur-of-the-moment brainstorm session will quickly translate into the beginning of the wildest adventure of both men, as they decide to live their last few months to the fullest rather than await the inevitable moment of death!
It’s the beginning of a lovely little comedy … the two men do the wildest things together! They go skydiving, visit the Taj Mahal in India, sit on top of a pyramid in Egypt … and lots more!
Though the first half hour takes forever to start – watching two sick men wither away in a hospital isn’t really exciting to see – and halfway through the movie there’s a bunch of scenes that hardly raise the bar above-average, The bucket list is still one of the funniest comedies featuring either men.
It isn’t As Good as It Gets or doesn’t even come close to the brilliance of Bruce Almighty, but it would be quite unfair to label this movie as an empty cockfight between two class act impersonators. There is so much more going on than simply watching a movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.
Both men actually bring their own charm to the table, and the differences in speech, looks and general behavior give the movie its very own naturalistic flavor.
Ultimately, The bucket list is a very simple movie and – granted! – it could’ve benefited from a slightly smarter script. Take away both main stars, and there’s almost nothing left.
Trust me: if you were to recast this movie with, say, Christopher Plummer and F. Murray Abraham, no one would have batted an eye … and the movie would’ve been swept under the rug before it had a chance to gain some real momentum.
Did you know?
The clip of Jeopardy! that Carter is seen watching in the bathtub is not from an actual episode of the show, and was filmed specifically for this movie.
Give it to me short:
Some movies have a great story with many colorful characters. Others have a deliriously innovative cinematography with some of the most unusual camera positions. And even other movies present a team of world-famous superheroes that take the world by storm.
Not ‘The bucket list’. The bucket list has neither a great story nor a fascinating realm of interesting characters. It doesn’t do special effects. It has virtually no action sequences. The music in the movie is nonexistent. And you can forget about seeing any beautiful babes passing by as the story centers on two old men …
No, The bucket list has something else.
It has two of the greatest actors of their generation go head-to-head at each other. Two actors who’ve had an unusually fruitful career, a well-deserved Oscar behind their name and enough stamina in the acting-department to last three human lives.
They are Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, and the mutual display they put on in this movie is a lot more than some grinning behind the teeth and exhibiting their familiar faces.
The bucket list doesn’t do much in any other department, but casting these two household names was a certified golden ticket! Thanks to them, the movies ceases to become a mundane bore.
Some jokes are nice, and the movie is overall an entertainment piece, but take away any of these two actors … and the whole thing collapses like a sand castle in the rising tide!