I had a surprisingly large number of people tell me I needed to see The Bucket List. It just keep coming up, again and again, so I finally decided to see it. I have to admit, I'm glad I did, for several reasons.
The first, I have to admit, is the wildly entertaining special effects. They are terrible. I would have assumed that with the unlimited amount of money it must have cost to have Nicholson and Freeman in a movie there would have been basically no budget. Apparently there was a very small budget. The scene where the two men are driving classic cars comically reminds me the old movies where the car wasn't moving, only the screen behind it was. The reason it reminds me of that is because I'm pretty sure that's what they did. The two men go on safari, to the Taj Mahal and to the Himalayas, and not once does it look at all like they are really there. It's funny, in my opinion, but if you Google 'The Bucket List green screen' you will find many people who find it more annoying than humorous.
The second reason, though, is far deeper. The two men are diagnosed with terminal cancer and given about a year to live. Nicholson has boatloads of money and no family, while Freeman has the opposite. They decide to go for a jaunt around the world (Roger Ebert takes great offense that they don't act like real cancer patients, but aren't movies to escape reality, not to revel in the reality of pain and suffering?), and in the process become close friends. They return changed men, as can be expected, but there is great value in the adventure. Is it escape? Is it a pilgrimage? Is it simply predictable Hollywood? While the movie isn't always deep and meaningful, the story behind it is.
It's a question of how we face death, and in asking the question we have to ask how we face life? Do we treasure those around us? Are we grateful for our time? Are we afraid to think about death?
It's easy to criticize this movie for its imperfections, but in doing so I think I'd miss the opportunity to have a more meaningful conversation about death and life. I think we need a bucket list of sorts, not necessarily of adrenaline charged experiences but of a more meaningful type. Are we actively seeking to love one another and to show that in our days? Are we filling our life with love, or are we so caught up in other things (money, power, success, etc.) that we are missing the truly meaningful parts of life, the things that add value and purpose to life? Are we serving Christ by serving others, or are we merely serving ourselves?
This film is a chance to ask all sorts of questions of ourselves and how we face our lives.