What would you do if you were told you only had months to live? That is the question at the heart of director Rob Reiner’s new film, “The Bucket List.”
The title of the movie comes from an assignment that character Carter Chambers received in a philosophy class in college—to make a list of things you wanted to accomplish before you “kicked the bucket.” The question becomes vital when Carter learns that the cancer he has been fighting has spread and he will likely die in only a few months.
Carter is being treated at a hospital owned by the very rich and very obstinate Edward Cole. Edward becomes his roommate when he, too, is diagnosed with advanced stage cancer. In the way of movies, the two are polar opposites but form an unlikely friendship. Some of the scenes in the hospital are the most compelling, as the ravages of the disease are treated matter-of-factly and the two men deal with it in similar ways. Carter and Edward forge a bond because they share this dreadful experience, one that their friends and family cannot truly understand.
When they find out, almost simultaneously, that their conditions are terminal, Edward convinces Carter that they should set out to complete their combined “bucket list.” Carter, who feels dissatisfied with many of the choices he has been forced to make in his life, agrees to join Edward, much to the dismay of his wife and family.
As the two men make their way across the globe, the items that they cross off the list go from trivial to meaningful. Skydiving and driving muscle cars for a thrill segue into searching for the truly majestic and re-connecting with Edward’s long-estranged daughter.
In many ways, the film is predictable: the quest to complete the list leads to enlightenment for both men, many tears are shed (both on film and in the audience), and the friendship enriches multiple lives. In spite of this predictability, however, “The Bucket List” imparts a genuine warmth, and the film generates a positive...