BOTTOM LINE: Strong, emotional and heart-felt film with superb performances from Nicholson and Freeman as the unlikely duo taking on life one more time before they kick the bucket.
THE GOOD: The idea of taking stock of your life and asking yourself if you've actually lived it to its fullest is an old one that's been given a beautiful treatment by director Rob Reiner in this film. What's so good about this film is presenting the theme, "there's no time like the present!"; even if it means in the case of Carter (Freeman) and Cole (Nicholson) that they only have six months to live. The masterstroke of the film of course was to cast both Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson as the unlikely odd couple who end up living life to the fullest in the final months they have left. It could have been all silly and contrived but instead we get two rock-solid, genuine performances from two of Hollywood's heavy-weight actors in sequences that are believable and amusing. The funniest scene? Perhaps when Freeman tells Nicholson he's never been with another woman other than his wife. Nicholson's mischievous response of, "that's definitely going on the list!" makes for a good laugh. "The Bucket List" is filled with such glorious moments, and it manages to do it while imparting a message that getting caught up in life's trivialities should never stop you from experiencing life the right way. Nicholson's billionaire businessman character is testament to that; he's been married four times, has an estranged daughter and lives alone - but he has a lot of money. Freeman has a wife, family and peace of mind - but he's poor. The two go together perfectly. One genuine surprise in the film is that you actually get a sense of what it's like for someone who's sick - early on we see scenes of Cole's character reacting to chemo treatment which are not pleasant, as we do Carter's. "The Bucket List" is a film that makes you think about life, gives you a good laugh, gives you two enjoyable acting performances, and doesn't overstay its welcome or go over the top.
THE BAD: It always seems inevitable that a film like this will enter into sentimental territory towards the end of the film and "The Bucket List" is no exception. Rob Reiner has tended to go in this direction in a number of his previous films but thankfully the sentiment is not poured on in bucket loads (pardon the pun). That said however, despite some schmaltzy scenes at the end which basically make you feel good about life and the lives of the characters, the film is blessed with having two real solid acting stars making completely believable performances; so in the end, it's not all that bad.