Rob Reiner's latest film is, among other things, a reflection of our persistent cultural belief that you haven't really lived until you've ticked off a list of Earth's Greatest Hits. Jack Nicholson plays Edward, a quadruple-divorced billionaire who has just been hospitalized with inoperable brain cancer. In a nice twist, he owns the hospital. Edward's roommate is Carter, a retired mechanic with an intellectual streak — played by Morgan Freeman, natch. (Writing the big boss into a shared room took a lot of maneuvering.) Carter is married to his high school sweetheart. Edward ... well, let's just say everybody hates him (see: Something's Gotta Give, As Good as It Gets). Obviously this odd couple hits it off: Condemned to die within the year, they dash off a list of things to do before that happens and set out on a trip around the world. Like Kerouac and Cassady, this duo takes to the road mostly to escape female expectations. At the heart of the movie is, of course, the Jack and Morgan Show. Both are skilled at squeezing emotion from a cheeseball script (as is Reiner), and the last half-hour of the film is genuinely moving. Turns out The Bucket List is a meta-film, mostly about how these two legendary actors interact and what it means to be an actor in your own life.
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