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Bucket List, The


Stars: Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman, Sean Hayes, Beverly Todd

Director: Rob Reiner

Two men in their seventies (Nicholson, Freeman), suddenly diagnosed with terminal cancer, find themselves in a two-man ward at a hospital that billionaire Nicholson owns. Freeman's a mechanic who always wanted to be a history professor before marriage and kids intervened. Over endless games of gin rummy, the two men hit it off. They decide to draw up a list of things to do before they 'kick the bucket'.

Nicholson's billions mean that the sky, literally, is the limit. After sky diving and drag racing, they tour the world. Nicholson tries to set Freeman up with a beautiful girl in Hong Kong, but it only makes Freeman realise he still loves the wife (Todd) who's become a stranger. He wants to go home.

Acerbic lines along the way keep sentiment at bay, and remind us that these men are dying. It's quite slight, but incomparable performances from the stars turn it into a thoroughly rewarding experience - though they generously make room for Will and Grace's Hayes as Nicholson's ubiquitous aide-de-camp, who's a match for his master in the art of irony. 'Death?' Nicholson tells him. 'Treat it as if it were your own.' 'You mean.' replies Hayes, 'leave all your money to your assistant?'

Gaffe-hunters will notice the List being torn up towards the end, but later reappearing miraculously intact. But the actors, better than the scenario, work confidently together to ensure you'll need a handkerchief in the last reel.

Alan Frank

USA 2007. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Technicolor.
96 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 12 Feb 2008