Nicholson & Freeman are gold together!
This is one of those special movies that needed a certain “seasoning” to push it over the “Good movie” hump and jettison it into the “Wow!” stratosphere. That seasoning came in the form of two fearless, older actors willing to show themselves in less-than-glamorous roles – Jack Nicholson & Morgan Freeman. It takes a gifted director to keep these ultra-egos in check and move two screen legends along the path of certain death without being heavy-handed or melodramatic. Rob Reiner is that master. What a tour-de-force for this group. Buoyed by an amazingly insightful, original script by Justin Zackham, the laughs and tears flow freely and unashamedly. This is how quality movies should be made.
Basic comedy/drama plot line: Two aging baby-boomers from completely opposite backgrounds are thrown together in a hospital room where they have no choice but to get to know one another. What starts as a series of polite (and not-so-polite in Nicholson’s case) nods and acknowledgments of each roommates’ quirks and faults, because of their dire circumstances, they slowly become friends. Soon they realize how very close they have become.
MINOR SPOILER ALERT: When both are given the jarring news of impending death, they create a mythical “bucket list” of things they wished they could have accomplished before they kick the bucket. Using Nicholson’s character’s seemingly endless supply of resources, they create a reality by zooming off in search of life experiences we all could wish for before it is too late. What they don’t expect is the emotional journey they are actually embarking upon until they are well into their adventure.
This is one of those movies that should be watched at different stages of your life. You will get something out of it at every viewing. As one of the characters states in the story when he realizes his list has changed from when he was a college student: “Those were a young man’s dreams. They are different now.” Same can be said for viewings of this stellar piece of movie magic. Being young and carefree will create one list. Having a family will change that list dramatically. As you age and have more life experience, you will change your list yet again. It is all covered so beautifully in this story.
The behind-the-scenes segment on the DVD where they interview the writer, Justin Zackham, about the genesis of this story, as well as the thoughts and process of expanding the storyline, only adds to this marvelous movie. It will open your eyes to creating your own “bucket list”. You don’t have to be dying to understand how precious life and it’s full experience can be until you start experiencing new and exciting adventures you never knew were possible.
I can’t recommend this movie highly enough for every age. Youth may see this is an “old man’s movie” which is a shame and completely wrong. This is a movie about achieving experiences (not THINGS) that create everlasting memories not only for this lifetime but for eternity. About friendships that start as nothing and can blossom into genuine brotherhood. And about how we can all strive for greatness no matter who you are or what your circumstances in life. There is always time – until there isn’t.
Please watch this movie every few years. It will change your outlook on life. 10 out of 10.
What do you think of the film? Let us know in the comments below.