Visions of Paradise

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Bucket List

I do not watch many movies due to lack of time. I can barely make a dent in all my reading, so think how much harder that would be if I watched a lot of television and/or movies? But since I have several free cards for Blockbuster, occasionally I’ll stop and see if they have anything interesting to watch. Last night we watched The Bucket List, with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.

My taste in movies generally runs similar to my taste in reading. I like character-driven movies with a strong plot that combines a bit of humor with some thoughtfulness. This movie had all of that. Freeman and Nicholson are two 80ish men dying of cancer, both of whom were given less than a year to live. Freeman initially wants to spend the time with his family, but as a therapeutic measure he compiles a “bucket list” of things he would like to do before he “kicked the bucket.” Since he is a fairly cerebral person, his list contains items along the lines of “see something majestic.”

Nicholson, on the other hand, is a career-driven Type A personality whose life consists of running the hospital in which both men are now patients, with little time for any type of relationships. When he sees Freeman’s list, he adds to it items such as “Sky-dive” and “Get a tattoo.” After Freeman gets his final report that he has less than a year to live, Nicholson convinces him that they should enjoy their final months by doing as many things on the “bucket list” as possible.

For the next three months the odd couple sky-dive, travel around the world (Nicholson has more money than he has ever or can ever spend), drive race cars, and generally have a lot of fun. But they are both still facing the specter of death, as well as several items on the list which they both fear doing. Nicholson has not seen his daughter in decades, and has no intention of doing so, but Freeman has added it to the list against Nicholson’s wishes. But Freeman has never cheated on his wife, and Nicholson thinks a brief affair belongs on the list as well.

While there is both humor and fun in the movie, mostly it is about how Freeman and Nicholson face death while growing closer together, and how some of the less likely items on the list are actually attained in warm, touching ways. While The Bucket List is not a great movie by any means, it is both entertaining and thoughtful with two fine performances, and a message that everybody can embrace, whether we are nearing the end of our lives or still firmly in the midst of it.


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