Peruse the respective résumés of Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, and you’ll see examples of the finest acting in American moviemaking over the past 40 years. It would take a truly awful film to erase such impressive, hard-earned achievements, but damned if Rob Reiner’s wretched cancer dramedy doesn’t come perilously close. Once Nicholson’s wealthy health-care magnate and Freeman’s salt-of-the-earth mechanic bond over their terminal diagnoses, the duo draws up a “bucket list” (as in, things to do before you kick the…). Then, with AARP cards and Nicholson’s checkbook in hand, they try to fulfill every wish: race Shelby Mustangs, kiss the world’s most beautiful girl, etc. Death, be not proud; also, please try not to let folks use you to justify such horribly manipulative, heinously written tripe.
Sentiments about silver linings and last chances are noble, but Reiner simply views this old-cootathon as a starting point for shameless pandering. The borscht-belt laughs are cheap, the pathos even cheaper; every time this travelogue deposits the twosome at some landmark, the actors are forced to deliver soliloquies rife with Hallmark-card mush masquerading as deep wisdom. For a movie that crows on about the preciousness of time, The Bucket List certainly has no problem wasting yours.