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The Bucket List | DVD Review

“cutesey clichés made this film perfect for its Christmas 2007 release, but it might be tiresome any other time of the year…”

“Cutesey,” says Edward (Jack Nicholson) when he finds Carter’s (Morgan Freeman) crumpled ‘bucket list.’ “Not to be judgemental, but this is extremely weak.”

Too bad audiences likely feel the same way about the film’s plot.

Cutesey clichés made this film perfect for its Christmas 2007 release, but it might be tiresome any other time of the year. The eponymous ‘bucket list’ is a to-do list for cancer-patients Edward and Carter before they ‘kick the bucket’ and reads like any other: see the world and do dangerous and daring things. So we follow Carter and Edward flit from pyramid to great wall, watch them get tattooed and race cars, during what is essentially an hour and 45 minute-long montage sequence, a replay of every death-makes-you-live story you’ve ever seen before.

And the story isn’t barebones because the real meat lies with character depth or development, either; the script leaves the talented Nicholson and Freeman with little to work with since Carter and Edward read like the stockiest of stock characters. Carter is the nobly humble and religious auto mechanic who is actually a Jeopardy champion in the making, but has worked 25 years to support his family at the expense of his dreams; Edward is the irresponsible ladies’ man who claims the “only successful marriage I’ve had is to my work” and scoffs at God.

The story has its funny moments, such as when Nicholson wakes up to say in his uniquely roguish way: “Love the smell of chemo in the morning!” Most of the time, however, the characters on screen seem to be having a better time or laughing harder at their jokes than we are.

Director Rob Reiner has ventured successfully into heart-warming comedy before (When Harry Met Sally, The Princess Bride), but 2005’s Rumor Has It and now 2007’s The Bucket List seem to have lost necessary sparkle. The Bucket List was recognized by the National Board of Review as one of the Top Ten Films of the Year, but the film received a lukewarm reaction by criticis—based on 34 newspaper reviews the film received a low 42 per cent rating at Metacritic. However, the film did fare well at the box office, marking Nicholson’s fifth box-office hit in a row.

Writing a Bucket List
Here writer-producer Justin Zackham plugs his coffee-table book idea Bucket Lists, which was inspired by the process of writing the screenplay. The book will include the bucket lists of many celebrities including The Bucket List stars Freeman (“one perfect golf swing”) and Sean Hayes, as well as those of other exciting personalities. Zackham does share that his own inspirational list had much to do with making the movie; his list is topped with “Get a movie in a major studio” and the entire travel section of the film’s is revealed to be cut and pasted from Zackham’s.

John Mayer “Say” Music Video
Shots of John Mayer singing in front of a white wall are interspersed choppily with montages from the movie. As cheesy as the film itself.

Deleted scenes
The deleted scenes are wisely cut out, as the only repeat scenarios established in other parts of the film.

Deleted scene: The Great Wall Talk
The buddies rest at the Great Wall as Carter reiterates the sacrifice for family that had held him back.

Deleted Scene: Ever Think About Going on the Show
A cute getting to know each other scene in the hospital, where Edward discovers Carter’s trivia-buff skills.

The film is a tearjerker, but an indulgence rather than any inspiration. Male bonding set to an overly-dramatic score, slow-mo by minute two, and opening and closing lines such as “when he died his eyes were closed and his heart was open” make this little more than a hackneyed soap opera.

Movie rating – 2

Disc Rating – 2.5

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