Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Bucket List

2007, US, directed by Rob Reiner

It's a commonplace to wonder what happened to Rob Reiner's career after such a strong start in the mid-1980s; even with fare like The Bucket List he shows himself, technically at least, to be a more than competent filmmaker in the Hollywood idiom but either he's not offered anything more interesting or he's quite happy churning out mediocre (and sometimes lucrative) movies. This whiled away the time on a long plane ride, but even there I couldn't get over the sheer unlikeliness of the concept, as well as the way in which the film justifies the contemptuous behaviour of one of the characters towards his wife.

Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman are both on autopilot, Jack receding ever further into the old roué "Jack Nicholson" character he has essayed so many times of late, while Freeman channels his increasingly familiar "wise black man" persona to the point of self-parody. The film is exceptionally schematic - you can sense each development as it creaks into view, while the central road/air trip is an unimaginative one-place-succeeds-another slide show - and the script's plodding momentum ultimately means there are few real opportunities for the two actors to make things come alive. In any case, they're mostly upstaged by Sean Hayes, who does a fine job with a limited supporting part, injecting a note of venom that's welcome amid the treacle.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States