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WARNER

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Rob Reiner
Cast:
Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman, Sean Hayes, Beverly Todd, Rob Morrow, Alfonso Freeman, Rowena King, Annton Berry Jr., Verda Bridges
Writing Credits:
Justin Zackham

Tagline:
When he closed his eyes, his heart was opened.

Synopsis:
Corporate billionaire Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) and working class mechanic Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) are worlds apart. At a crossroads in their lives, they share a hospital room and discover they have two things in common: a desire to spend the time they have left doing everything they ever wanted to do before they "kick the bucket" and an unrealized need to come to terms with who they are.

Together they embark on the road trip of a lifetime, becoming friends along the way and learning to live life to the fullest, with insight and humor and each adventure adds another check to their list.

Box Office:
Budget
$45 million.
Opening Weekend
$161.840 thousand on 16 screens.
Domestic Gross
$93.323 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16X9
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 97 min.
Price: $28.98
Release Date: 6/10/2008

Bonus:
• “Writing a Bucket List” Featurette
• Music Video
• Previews


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The Bucket List (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 4, 2008)

Two aging Oscar-winners pair for 2008’s The Bucket List. In this high-concept effort, a mechanic named Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) and a billionaire named Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) end up together in the same cancer ward. Initially they clash, but they eventually bond and become friends.

Apparently without much time left to live, Carter and Edward generate a “Bucket List”. This is a chart that details a number of exploits they feel they should achieve before they “kick the bucket”. Though it was his idea, Carter resists the notion, but Edward convinces him they need to really live during their final months.

And there’s your story. The two men depart from the hospital and attempt to experience as many of their “Bucket List” items as they can before one – or both – of them passes. Hijinks and life lessons ensue.

When I first heard of List, I suspected it would provide a predictable, schmaltzy, sentimental piece of “life-affirming” nonsense. The presence of two fine actors like Freeman and Nicholson gave me some hope that it might overcome its Lifetime Channel tendencies, and to some degree, this occurs. Neither performer breaks a sweat here, but whatever charms we discover come from their chemistry and warm interaction.

Otherwise, List ends up as the predictable, schmaltzy, sentimental piece of “life-affirming” nonsense I anticipated. Essentially it plays like a Grumpy Old Men flick with a more morbid bent. It exists to place a couple of old dudes in wacky situations like skydiving and car racing.

Unfortunately, almost nothing about the experience manages to capture the viewer’s imagination, and it consistently feels false. Neither Carter nor Edward are actual characters. They’re just amalgamations of traits and quirks cobbled together into vaguely human personalities. Whatever three-dimensionality emerges comes from the actors; there’s no other substance to be found here.

The drowsy storytelling doesn’t help. It takes the film quite a while to get to its titular list, and it doesn’t use that time particularly well; we learn more than enough about the leads in the first five minutes, so everything else feels like filler. Perhaps if List produced anything satisfying when it gets going, I might not mind the slow pacing. It’s just so random and tedious when it arrives that I find it hard to care.

The predictable nature of the flick is really what kills it, though. I find some minor pleasure from the company of Freeman and Nicholson, but The Bucket List wastes their talents on TV movie schmaltz. Expect a couple of minor laughs that become submerged under sentimental tripe.


The DVD Grades: Picture C-/ Audio C+/ Bonus D

The Bucket List appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and in a fullscreen version on this double-sided, single-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. Though not a long movie, the single-layer presentation left us with some otherwise avoidable problems.

The excessive compression created most of the issues. The film took on a gauzy look, as artifacts made it seem like it was shot through a light screen. Sharpness struggled as well. The movie usually demonstrated adequate definition, but more than a few soft shots emerged along the way. The flick gave us passable delineation and that was about it. At least it lacked jagged edges or shimmering. Source flaws failed to distract, and only a little light edge enhancement materialized.

Colors appeared decent at best. The general murkiness meant that they lacked much vivacity and tended to seem somewhat drab and flat. Blacks followed suit, as dark elements looked muddy, and shadows were too dense. Low-light shots came across as dull and somewhat tough to discern. This was a consistently bland transfer that deserved a “C-”.

Though I had fewer complaints about the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Bucket List, I couldn’t find much to praise, either. I expected that, though, since I wouldn’t anticipate a wild experience from this sort of dramatic comedy. The soundfield focused relentlessly on the front spectrum, and music presented the most prominent element. The score showed good stereo imaging, and we got some minor ambience, but that was about it. Some of the “List” adventures like skydiving or car racing opened up the spectrum, but those sequences didn’t last long. Much of the chatty piece seemed nearly monaural.

Audio quality was fine. Speech sounded distinctive and natural, without edginess or other issues. Effects didn’t have much to do, but they were acceptable for what they offered. Music appeared reasonably full and rich. There wasn’t enough here to merit a grad above a “C+”, though, so don’t expect a memorable soundtrack.

Since List was a decent hit, it’s a disappointment that it includes very few extras. We find a four-minute and 53-second featurette called Writing a Bucket List that provides notes from screenwriter Justin Zackham. The show covers the origins of the project and Zackham’s collected book of “Bucket Lists”. It tells us very little and feels more like an ad for the book.

We also get a music video from John Mayer for “Say”. It provides a simple mix of movie clips and basic lip-synch footage from Mayer. The song is lightweight at best, and the video is a bore.

A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for Semi Pro, Bernard and Doris, Mama’s Boy and Get Smart. No trailer for List appears here.

Perhaps someone more daring than Rob Reiner could’ve turned The Bucket List into something memorable. Unfortunately, he goes for lowest common denominator territory in this predictable, sentimental and tedious affair. The DVD provides bland picture and audio; it also lacks substantial extras. Skip this dud.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.1666 Stars Number of Votes: 12
15:
54:
3 3:
12:
21:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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