The Bucket List DVD: Review By Brian Gallagher

It is truly a film that captures every essence of filmmaking wonderfully and deserves a round of applause, not only for that, but for showing us that movies these days don’t have to cater JUST to 13 year olds to be PG-13.
  • OVERALL
    4.0
    GREAT
  • Feature
  • Picture
  • Sound
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
Glorious performances from Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman and a truly moving story with a great comeback for director Rob Reiner.
THE BAD
The special features weren't the greatest and a few minor logical problems with the story.
THE FEATURE
If you're any sort of film fanatic, young or old, it really doesn't get much better than seeing Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman on-screen together. Even though they are getting on in years, or "long in the tooth" as they might have called their predecessors when they were whippersnappers, they're still truly at the top of their respective games and it's ever so clear in The Bucket List, a film that came along for just the right actors at just the right times in their lives.

The movie revolves around two men who have only one thing in common: cancer. Carter Chapman (Morgan Freeman) is a career mechanic, although his worldly knowledge of seemingly everything doesn't exactly make him the garden-variety grease monkey. Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) is on the far other side of the spectrum. An eccentric billionaire who's made his living running hospitals , Cole is not used to be slowed down in life and when he's diagnosed with brain cancer, well, let's just say he doesn't take it well, and the situation worsens for him when he meets his new roommate, Carter. After a very humorous getting-to-know-each-other period, paced efficiently and swiftly by talented screenwriter Justin Zackham, Cole finds Chapman's partial "Bucket List" i.e. things he wants to do before he kicks the proverbial bucket. Cole gets inspired by the notion though, and with a few additions to the list, and some persuasive talk from Cole, the unlikely duo set off for an adventure across the world, and discover a whole lot more than they bargained for.

For a guy who's written such drivel as Going Greek, Zackham really shows some real talent in many ways with his script. Of course, his words are enhanced that much more with a pair of Oscar winners like Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, who are absolutely perfect together here, and Rob Reiner's deft direction, Zackham's talent is not to be underscored. He has an incredible knack for pacing, tone and fits quite a bit of material into this neat little 97-minute package. This travelogue of a flick is also quite well-researched and has some superb dialogue as well. The only tiny problem I had with the flick, however, is the very beginning of the flick and how it oddly is supposed to logically tie in to the ending. Still, it's a very very very minor problem.

There's only so much I can say about Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. They are film legends and, not only is it nice to see something tailored to more mature audiences, with lead actors in their 70s, Freeman and Nicholson continue to prove they, like the very characters they portray, keep continuing to prove they have no intention of fading into obscurity quietly. They both deliver sensational performances and just seeing two absolute masters of their craft riffing off each other is a sheer delight to watch.

Director Rob Reiner's involvement was a bit of an X-factor for me. It's not headline news that he hasn't had a hit since the Clinton Administration and him taking over the problematic Rumor Has It after wonderful scribe Ted Griffin was fired by Warner, is still a little weird to me. Still, everyone loves a comeback, right? Well, Reiner certainly has made one in the director's chair here. Aside from beautifully capturing Nicholson and Freeman, (and finally getting a hold of a solid story to tell) Reiner dazzles with some beautiful set pieces and enhancing the nuances of these colorful characters with his camera work. Welcome back, Rob Reiner!

I'm only 31 years old and I'm nowhere near ready to fill out that AARP application quite yet. I have no idea what it's like to experience cancer or the new conflicts that old age brings upon us. Still, like all great movies, The Bucket List makes us experience things and touches the inner chords of our soul. It is truly a film that captures every essence of filmmaking wonderfully and deserves a round of applause, not only for that, but for showing us that movies these days don't have to cater JUST to 13 year olds to be PG-13.
THE EXTRAS
We don't get a whole lot here, folks. The main one is Writing a Bucket List with Screenwriter Justin Zackham. It's pretty cool about how the movie started up with Zackham's own Bucket List and he gets into this thing about his book he's doing about other people's actual lists like Sean Hayes and Morgan Freeman to other regular people. It's only about 5 minutes long and I guess it's kind of cool, but... there isn't much about the, you know, movie here.

The only other thing we get on the DVD is a John Mayer Music Video: Say". Pretty standard, really. Footage of the movie intercut with the artist singing and playing guitar. Sure, he's "dreamy" and crap, according to the dames, but who cares.

There are two Deleted Scenes if you have a DVD-ROM to pop this into, and they're not too bad either, so check them out if you have the proper hardware.
THE VIDEO
The film is available on this disc in both the standard fullscreen format in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio or the "matted" widescreen format, enhanced for 16x9 widescreen televisions.
THE AUDIO
The sound is handled through the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround format.
THE PACKAGE
Nothing fancy here, but it fits the movie nicely. The front just has a nice shot of Freeman and Nicholson smiling for the camera with the title card, some random "snapshots" of their adventures and a critic quote. The back has another critic quote, along with a mention of a "Heartland Truly Moving Picture Award," some more "snapshots," a synopsis, a nice special features listing along with the billing block and tech specs. It works just fine.
THE FINAL WORD
Who says you have to cater to the young crowd to have a successful picture? The Bucket List is a charming, endearing portrait about what happens at the end of our lives, and how to seize the opportunities you have left to go out in style. While a lot of the sentiment of the flick will be lost on the younger crowd, I'm sure even they'll get a kick out of Nicholson and Freeman together and this is truly an enjoyable film for all.

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