While I was watching Michael Haneke's "Amour", I started thinking back other movies about the nature of death that I had seen. One of them was Rob Reiner's "The Bucket List". It stars Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as cancer patients Edward and Carter, who become friends in the hospital. After Carter hears he has less than a year to live, he and Edward go on a trip around the globe together to have some fun before Carter "kicks the bucket", meaning before he dies.
There are movies that you watch when you're young and think they're awesome, and watch them again when you're older and still like them, though you've started to see the faults. The Bucket List represents the exact opposite. I saw it some 4 years ago, when I still didn't watch too many films and didn't understand much about them. I thought it was pretty good back then, but what about now?
To watch The Bucket List now is a quite nerve-racking experience. As beautifully as Roger Ebert put it, this film has nothing to do with dying of cancer. The film prettifies the theme of death so badly it soon turns repulsive. Edward and Carter go skydiving, climb up Mt. Everest and drive motorcycles on the Great Wall of China, among other things. Would these things be involved in your "bucket list" if you were lying in your death bed? Meanwhile they also have pseudo-profound conversations about subjects like family and faith, and Carter tries to make Edward reunite with his estranged daughter. The sentimentality is effusive, and the viewer is feeling sick.
The only positive thing I can possibly say of the film is Nicholson and Freeman. Not their performances, because they're just playing themselves again, but they do have chemistry in some scenes. I still hope they'd do some more remarkable films while they're still alive. But you can't really blame them for doing this film. Both actors have had the ups and downs of their careers, won their Oscars and now they can do whatever they want.
Every human being dies at some point of their lives. It is a fact so clear that we shouldn't be lied about it. The Bucket List makes you think dying can be fun and you can remain distant from your family and treatment and instead go doing deadly things like skydiving. I don't know, maybe the film just tries to tell us not to be too afraid of dying, but the way it tells this message with clichés and sentimentality, it's not really uplifting or thoughtful. The Bucket List is yet another American schmaltzy comedy-drama that tries to be something very moving and profound, but ends up being an intolerable experience and a total waste of time.