Friday, 29 August 2008

The Bucket List

Sometimes the biggest names in Hollywood get together to make a film that can have your heart pounding with anticipation. Oscar winners Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman decided to team-up to make a light-hearted comedy which was bound to set pulses racing and send blood pressure through the roof. When it was revealed the film was going to be about death and terminal illness it might have brought on a few sudden heart attacks and spoiled some of the excitement that had gripped fans of the pair.

Looking back through the history of film would reveal how Hollywood has avoided films about dying, and probably understandably, as it’s not the primary choice for entertainment. However, if anyone was going to pull it off it would be Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.

Nicholson settles into the role of a rich American executive in this film with consummate ease. His experience as an actor doesn’t always draw roles of this particular profession, but it does suit his character perfectly. His iconic grin and sharp, unforgiving wit are used to put every actor or extra on edge, except for Morgan Freeman.

The wise and world-weary Freeman meets the character of Carter Chambers, an ill and aging mechanic, as if they were old friends, united yet again. When Edward Cole (Nicholson) meets Carter Chambers a bond is formed in the most tragic of circumstances.

A classic tale of first appearances being deceptive is easily distinguishable. The black, working class mechanic played by Freeman seems doomed to die having achieved little. Rich, white executive Edward Cole seems to have the money to buy his way out, but soon finds out the reality of life and death.

The two unlikely companions come together to make ‘bucket lists’ – a selection of things you need to do before you kick the bucket. This includes parachuting, becoming reunited with loved ones and laughing until they cry. It doesn’t take long for an audience to realise that in fact Carter Chambers’ life is richer, surrounded by loved ones and fond memories.

The way the plot developed was undoubtedly predictable, leaving little to surprise the audience. The implausible ability the two aging men had to take on any task as if they were teenagers was also disappointing. The bucket lists that they make also encourage the audience to think about their own mortality, and it’s impossible not to pick out the points that didn’t make the list.

Overall, The Bucket List provided funny, entertaining and touching moments, without ever reaching into the realms of greatness. Nicholson and Freeman never appeared to stretch themselves, content instead to build a simple camaraderie. They always seemed to be aware of the fine line between humour and mortality, and perhaps if they’d been allowed more freedom they could’ve created something worthy of their reputations.

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