Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 30, 2008

‘The Bucket List’
Rated: PG-13 (language and a sexual reference)
Running length: 1 hr. 37 min.
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman, Sean Hayes, Rob Morrow, Beverly Todd
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Rating:PP (out of 4)
The Academy Award nominations were announced Tuesday.
“The Bucket List” was not on it.
No matter.
It’s one of those movies that audiences love ó it’s still doing well at the box office ó but critics don’t.
Leave “There Will Be Blood” and “No Country For Old Men” to the critics, then.
(One reader wrote on the New York Times Web site that he’d been watching movies for 50 years and “No Country” was the worst he’d ever seen.)
My dad and I were really looking forward to “The Bucket List.” Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman are among our favorite actors.
Director Rob Reiner’s got some great movies under his belt, too.
I just wanted this movie to be so much better than it turned out to be.
You can’t fault Nicholson and Freeman.
Nicholson chews the scenery with his usual gusto.
Freeman ó who after all, has played God, for Pete’s sake ó brings a calm wisdom to his philosopher/ mechanic Carter.
Nicholson, playing Edward Cole, and Freeman meet up in the hospital, where they are terminally ill with cancer.
After striking up a fast and unlikely friendship, the two take off across the world to cross items off their “bucket list” ó stuff they always wanted to do before they kicked the bucket.
Of course, it helps if you have the kind of money Edward does ó he owns a company that privatizes hospitals.
Edward and Carter ó who Edward takes to calling Ray ó have a conversation atop the pyramids; gaze longingly at the summit of Everest, covered by a storm; stroll in front of the Taj Mahal; fly around the racetrack in classic cars, and more.
(Daddy and I decided if we had six months to live, we’d head to Myrtle Beach. Sounds slightly pathetic in this context, but it’s true.)
The two actors are clearly having fun riffing off one another ó it’s just too bad they don’t have more material to work with.
Rob Morrow plays Edward’s doctor ó and becomes Carter’s doctor before it’s over.
At first, he all but ignores Carter, but changes his tune once Edward steps in.
Morrow gives the medical profession a little humanity here.
Also doing a great job with his role is Sean Hayes of “Will and Grace” fame. This time, he’s much more subdued but still funny as Edward’s unflappable assistant, Thomas.
(His real name is Matthew, but as Thomas tells Carter of Edward, “He thinks that’s too biblical.” Huh?)
As I said, everyone’s good here. The intent is good ó you just wish there were a little more substance.
Also annoying is the fact that none of these stunning settings was actually filmed on location. The magic of computer graphics that works beautifully elsewhere gives this movie a false ring.
But maybe that’s just being too picky.
Movie critics as a whole are not happy. Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman writes, “Rob Reiner is the rare director who can take all the wonder out of one of the seven wonders of the world.”
Although you obviously know the ending, it’s intriguing to see how some of the items on the list get crossed off ó and who ends up crossing them off.
Prudy Taylor announced to her exercise class the other day at the Y that everyone should see “The Bucket List.”
“It’s just a tearjerker,” says Prudy, a movie buff. “You need two boxes of Kleenex.
“It just makes you reflect on your own life. I loved it, I mean, I just loved it. I want to go see it again.”
Now, Prudy says, she might even be able to conquer her fear of crossing that mile-high bridge on Grandfather Mountain.
What will you cross off your bucket list?
Contact Susan Shinn at 704-797-4289 or