What saves THE BUCKET LIST from maudlin sentimentality is that it never allows itself to be maudlin or sentimental. What makes it worth seeing is the chemistry of the two leads. Jack Nicholson is an impish scalawag with lots of money and not much else to show for his life. Morgan Freeman is an auto mechanic with an encyclopedic knowledge of trivia and a kind of zen patience. Let’s face it, not what you’d call a stretch for either actor. These two wind up sharing a hospital room when both are diagnosed with cancer. Finishing treatment they decide to spend their last few months crossing items off their Bucket List- things to do before they kick the bucket.
Watching Nicholson and Freeman is a joy. The script is full of wit that flows easily out of character. And director Rob Reiner keeps the attention firmly on the leads knowing that any flourishes by him would just undermine what he has to work with. I even found the ending genuinely touching in spite of knowing that both the leads were under a death sentence from the first few frames. The movie is a delight. It resists going for the cheap gag (most of the time) yet is full of laughs. It pulls at your heart without making you feel that you’ve been manipulated. It’s a sweet trifle. A well made movie with nothing really to say. And it doesn’t seem to care. You could find far worse ways to spend a couple of hours before you kick the bucket.