Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 3
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

MAYBE THIS WASN’T SUCH A GOOD IDEA AFTER ALL!: Terminally ill cancer patients Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson, left) and Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman, right), judging by the looks on their faces, seem to be having second thoughts about the wisdom of fulfilling their dream to skydive.

The Bucket List: Terminally Ill Patients Make a Break From Cancer Ward in Sentimental End-of-Life Movie

The paths of terminally ill Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) and Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) probably never would have crossed if they hadn’t ended-up together in a cancer ward. Edward Cole, who is a billionaire who also happens to own the hospital, could easily have afforded a private suite. However, because his hospital has a strict policy of two patients per room, he finds himself in a room with an auto mechanic.

Their difference in social status doesn’t mean much because they’re both gravely ill and they’ve each been given the same prognosis of having less than a year to live. The two curmudgeons soon discover that they share an aversion to the idea of merely resigning themselves to their fates and living out their remaining time attached to tubes, monitors, and hi-tech machines.

Rather than capitulate to cancer, they decide to die on their own terms. They start by compiling a list of things they want to do before “Kicking the Bucket.” Giving free rein to their imaginations, they come up with a list that includes getting tattoos, visiting the Great Wall of China, climbing the Pyramids, seeing the Taj Mahal, driving a race car, skydiving, climbing the Himalaya Mountains, and finding the perfect woman.

Because Ed’s only visitor in the hospital is his deferential assistant, Thomas (Sean Hayes), it is clear that he has few, if any, friends and is therefore free to indulge his fantasies. However, Carter is a devoted family man and has to consider the feelings of his wife of 47 years (Beverly Todd) and their three children. However, when Edward offers to foot the entire bill for their hedonistic getaway, Carter can’t resist the chance to spend his waning days in pursuit of everything he has ever dreamed of doing.

So, ignoring doctors’ orders, they leave the hospital and embark on their once-in-a-lifetime adventure with the help of Thomas, who handles all the arrangements. While they are checking off each of the items on their list; they reminisce, philosophize, and most of all, misbehave.

The Bucket List is a surprisingly lighthearted story for such a morbid theme. Directed by Rob Reiner, the movie co-stars Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman in roles they’ve practically trademarked. Nicholson steals the show as an adorable, bombastic bon vivant; and Freeman, as usual, portrays a sagacious man wise beyond his years.

A feel good film that transcends its subject matter and buoys one’s spirits.

Very Good (3 stars). Rated PG-13 for profanity, mature themes, and a sexual reference. Running time: 97 minutes. Studio: Warner Brothers.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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