"You measure yourself by the people who measure themselves by you," says the quietly wise Carter Chambers, played with gravitas and grace by a Morgan Freeman. In Rob Reiner's moving, often hilarious film The Bucket List, all sorts of people measure themselves against the two heroes, Chambers and his hospital suitemate, Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson).
But as Cole finds, having spent his entire life building a Fortune 500 company, none of that much matters when cancer, the great equalizer, pays a visit. The film traces the adventures of the two unlikely friends, who meet in a hospital cancer ward, each given six months to live. The "bucket list" of the title refers to a lifelong list of goals that a teacher of Chambers once advised him to compile--and achieve--"before you kick the bucket. " Soon the two are off on what may be the last grand adventure of their life, vowing to tick off as many goals (skydiving, race-car driving, seeing the wonders of the world) as they can in the time they have left. What starts as a medical melodrama becomes a road trip, yet the men's mortality realities are never far from thought. The two leads give impressive performances, and remind the viewer of just how few American films focus on the lives and loves of senior citizens. Nicholson even manages to lose his persona in his character, much as he did in About Schmidt. There's a lovely John Mayer tune, "Say (What You Need to Say)," that's perfectly matched to the film's clear-eyed view of life What does one person leave behind as his true legacy? --A. T. Hurley
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