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October 15th, 2007:
Corporate billionaire Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson
) and working class mechanic Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman
) are worlds apart. At a crossroads in their lives, they share a hospital room and discover they have two things in common: a desire to spend the time they have left doing everything they ever wanted to do before they “kick the bucket” and an unrealized need to come to terms with who they are. Together they embark on the road trip of a lifetime, becoming friends along the way and learning to live life to the fullest. Each adventure adds another check to their list, all done with insight and humor.What to Expect: Rob Reiner
could do no wrong when first he started directing movies in the 1980's. He was one of the most sought after film makers, packing movie houses and winning critical acclaim with such hits as A Few Good Men, The Princess Bride and Stand by Me, just to name a few. Yet with age, he is now 60, his skills seem to have diminished. His last two movies Rumor Has It and Alex and Emma have completely bombed at the box office. Reiner is convinced that the reason that these movies failed is because the younger audience no longer has the attention span they once had for good movies. Even if he is right, coming from him it just sounds like a bitter senior citizen complaining about "kids these days." Perhaps what he really should have said was, "hey guys, I am too old to be making high school date movies, let me grow up a little and make an adult movie." Well, he might have been too proud to say that, but that is what he is doing. His next release, "The Bucket List", is an adult comedy/drama that focuses on two older men dealing with their own mortality. This kind of movie seems a lot more age appropriate for Reiner. It should do very well at the box office because, even though it is meant for an older audience, it should still draw plenty of ADD ridden youth. Article continues below
The Bucket List is a story about two very different terminally ill men, Cole and Edward, who end up sharing a room in a cancer ward. Cole is a white billionaire while Edward is an African American car mechanic. The two men bond and decide to make a "bucket list," which consists of the things they want to do before they kick the bucket. Some of the activities include fun stuff like riding Harleys on the great wall of china, sky diving, racing cars, and also sentimental stuff like meeting Cole's granddaughter. They escape from the hospital and embark on a journey of self discovery, and in the end not only accomplish all that they have always wanted, but gain something even more important neither man had, a true friend. Now this sounds exactly like the plot of the 1988 movie called "Hawks", but the writer, Justin Zackham, vehemently denies the accusation of plagiarism; he denies ever seeing the movie since it is only available on VHS and he does not own a VCR. He claims that a few years ago he actually made his own list called "Justin's Things To Accomplish Before He Kicks The Bucket," which he eventually shortened to "the Bucket List". He kept the list on his wall for inspiration but never actually tried to complete it. Then one day when he realized that this concept would make a pretty good movie, spending the next two years writing the script. The roll of Edward was actually tailor written for Morgan Freeman. Zackham says that he "actually heard Freeman's voice in his head when he was writing Edward's voice over," thus Freeman became the priority as soon as Reiner was signed to direct. Luckily, Zackham and Freeman had the same agency which was able to arrange a meeting between the two. Freeman quickly agreed to the film after reading the script and Reiner decided to try to cast the roll of Cole with Jack Nicholson. The two had previously worked together on A Few Good Men, so Reiner felt he had a good chance. Ironically, when Nicholson finally agreed it was not Reiner who had convinced him but Freeman. Freeman claims that "he was in love with Nicholson for years" and really wanted to work with him. To his surprise Jack was a big fan of his in turn and the two got along great from the first meeting on. Now that both Nicholson and Freeman were on board, Reiner didn't have any more trouble getting funding for the movie, and all the assumptions that nobody will see a film about two old men was out the window.
This movie was right up Nicholson's alley. It has very similar themes to his Oscar winning performance in "As Good as it Gets," except in this one he finds friendship at an old age while in "As Good" he finds love. Meanwhile, Freeman has spent his entire career doing buddy flicks and voiceovers and this movie has both. The one major difference for Freeman is that in this one he is actually going to have a female love interest and a kiss on screen. What makes the whole thing even more interesting, is that the two actors are the same exact age, thus making their film relationship that much more believable.
As filming progressed the two legendary actors built terrific chemistry which is noticeable in the film. Nicholson improvised many parts of his role and Freeman was able to work off that, turning an already funny and touching script into a hilarious tear jerker. When filming was finally complete, Freeman, the sentimental sap that he is, went over to Nicholson, hugged him and said "I love you." To everyone's surprise, Nicholson, who has a reputation as the tough bad boy, actually hugged him back. Just like the two characters in the movie, the two actors became close friends. Talk about method acting!
This movie just goes to show you that when it comes to making movies you just need to go with what you know. Here we have a bunch of old guys who came together to make a movie about two old men who decide to help each other do all the things they have always wanted. The result is a hilarious yet inspiring movie that will make you laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time. Furthermore, it is a film that will easily appeal to all demographics, not just older men. Some have leveled criticism at this movie saying that it would be highly unbelievable for two such different people to build a friendship like that in just a few short weeks. I agree that it would be challenging, but that is the entire point of this movie. It is saying that death is the great equalizer, no matter your race, looks, or how much money you have in the bank, we all end up in the same place. I think Freeman and Nicholson are good enough actors and Reiner a good enough director to make this movie seem totally natural. In fact, they did such a good job that Nicholson should get some Oscar consideration as best actor and Freeman as best supporting actor. Unfortunately, Reiner will probably not get any consideration since competition for best director is going to be stiff. However, this movie should be enough to volt Reiner back to the top, and allow him to make whatever he wants like he did in the 80's and 90's.In Conclusion:
This movie has the perfect winning formula. You've got Reiner directing, Jack Nicholson acting and Morgan Freeman narrating. It is a heart warming comedy loaded with great performances and good writing. If you are tired of the usual slap stick Will Farrell comedies and want something more, then this is the movie for you. You do not need to be an aging senior citizen to appreciate this film.Similar Titles: As Good as It Gets
, Shawshank Redemption