The “Baby Boomer” generation is reaching a pivotal transitional stage in its lifetime. During this stage many questions are brought up. Should I continue working? Should I retire? Do I want to move closer to my family and friends? The decisions made regarding these questions can dramatically change the outcome of one’s life. One issue that older individuals do not have any control over is health. Not one person can guarantee a clean bill of health lasting through the remaining years of their life. One of the more prominent (and deadly) of these diseases is cancer. When one is diagnosed with cancer that person no longer worries about what to do, but how long s/he have to do it.
Rob Reiner’s new film “The Bucket List” addresses this very issue. In his movie, two men (Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman) who have lived very different lives both come down with terminal cancer. While staying in the same hospital room, they decide to create a list of all the things that they want to do before they “kick the bucket.”
Edward Cole (Nicholson) built up a fortune while running hospitals, so he covers all of the expenses associated with completing the bucket list. The items on the list range from metaphoric ideas (ex: witness something majestic) to extreme sports (ex: skydiving). They form a great friendship and learn important life lessons.
Age creates many problems for film stars. The problems arise mainly with children and senior actors. Both of these age groups are type cast due to the limited characters that they can portray. “The Bucket List” continued this trend by casting two Hollywood veterans. Both Nicholson and Freeman are 70 years old. It is nice to see that these Oscar- winning actors can still find leading roles 40 years after they entered the movie scene.
Freeman once again was the friendly and all-knowing narrator. It is hard to believe that Freeman will ever be cast in another movie where his character does not narrate at some point. Just like in his previous narrating jobs, Freeman delivers another wonderful performance. He might not win another Oscar playing Carter Chambers, but he interchanges serious drama and funny one-liners beautifully. The movie is successful due to the wonderful chemistry between Freeman and Nicholson.
After three Oscars, there is nothing more that Nicholson needs to prove. One thing that Nicholson has kept constant over his career is his swagger. In “The Bucket List,” Nicholson stays true to what has made him a star. Nicholson, if possible, shows that one can still keep a since of humor with terminal cancer. The comedic element that he brings keeps the film light without it becoming campy. Another element that kept the movie in a real context came from scenes early in the film.
Cancer is a serious illness, so there is a delicate balance when trying to create a comedy around this disease. To make the movie seem realistic, Reiner shows the after effects of chemotherapy. This includes vomiting, night sweats, hair loss, and weight loss. Later in the film, Freeman’s catheter comes lose causing blood to spill onto his shirt. These events helped demonstrate some of the difficulties that are associated with cancer.
It is not an award-winning film, but it is a poignant comedy with wonderful acting. This movie also addresses how a person’s life does not have to be over when they are diagnosed with a terminal disease. It is an uplifting movie, which is nice during the winter months. Freeman has seven movies in the works right now and there will be projects for Nicholson soon as well. Hopefully both Nicholson and Freeman will continue working late into their 80s. These are two of the top actors of the 20th century and if “The Bucket List” is any indication, each actor will continue to release top-notch performances for years to come.
Tom Pittman is a fourth-year student majoring in psychology with a minor in mathematics. He can be reached at TP623014@wcupa.edu.