The Bucket List (12A)

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The Independent Culture

Uh-oh. This comes with a tag-line to chill the marrow: "Find the Joy". Well, I searched for a while. Rob Reiner's old-geezer comedy may have solid-gold names over the title, but the script is base metal that admits of no comic alchemy. Morgan Freeman is a car mechanic who sacrificed loftier ambitions 40 years ago for the sake of his family; Jack Nicholson is a self-satisfied plutocrat with four marriages and one estranged daughter behind him.

The two find themselves in neighbouring hospital beds, both with terminal cancer, but Freeman idly draws up a list of things he'd like to do before kicking the bucket. Nicholson, reading the list, says: "Not to be judgemental, but this is extremely weak" (the one line I laughed at), and devises a package of expensive thrills for them to wallow in while they're still able – sky-diving, motor-racing, sightseeing in India, Egypt, Africa, and so on.

Watch 'The Bucket List' trailer

Freeman, who doubles as worldly-wise narrator, happens to be a general knowledge nerd, droning on about everything from US Presidents to coffee and caviar – a bore to Nicholson's boor. Neither stretches himself, and given the feebleness of its family-values hokum, you wouldn't want them to. Nicholson has done a much better portrait of disgruntled old age in About Schmidt, and Reiner, lest we forget, made This Is Spinal Tap. This is about as funny as a barium meal.