Making the Grades
Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) makes a good income in the medical industry by using practical economics, such as having two beds per room in the hospitals he owns. It is a profitable policy he's proud to defend -- until he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Suddenly the pompous man finds himself in one of those cramped double-occupancy rooms, getting a taste of his own fiscal management.
Sharing his space and his fate is Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman), a humble auto mechanic and family man with an active mind. Reacting to his bad news philosophically, Carter begins to create a 'bucket list," meaning a compilation of things he wishes to do before he "kicks the bucket."
When Edward accidentally stumbles upon the sheet of goals, he scoffs over the scrawled notations of "help a complete stranger" and "laugh until I cry." Yet after a little consideration, his cynical attitude quickly turns into enthusiastic support. Soon the health care tycoon is encouraging the unassuming blue-collar worker to think bigger, and even adds his own items, like "get a tattoo" and "kiss the prettiest girl in the world."
Having endured weeks of tortuous chemotherapy and presently enjoying a remission, the money-rich, family-poor Edward suggests he bankroll a world tour so the two of them can put some checkmarks on their list. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, however Carter's wife (Beverly Todd) rejects the invitation. She feels her husband should spend his precious remaining days with her and their children. Despite her objections, Carter ignores these obligations and boards Edward's private jet.
What follows is not only an adventure, but also a journey of discovery, that moves from the most trivial of pursuits to seeking the profoundest of answers. And considering both protagonists in this film face impending death and the horrors of cancer treatment (depictions include vomiting, incision scars and a bloodstain from a faulty catheter), a surprising amount of comedy is generated from the difficulties and small triumphs encountered by this unlikely pair.
While this title probably won't attract younger viewers, parents considering sharing this movie with their teen children should be aware that it contains language issues, such as a sexual expletive, finger gesture, and some mild to moderate profanities. Sexual content includes a few references and innuendos, as well as a womanizer who brags about his sexual escapades (without going into details) and a brief scene where sexual activity is implied. Fortunately, other characters in this film balance this cavalier attitude by making far better sexual decisions.
Although few people will ever have the opportunity to spend their last days with a limitless credit card, facing death is a reality for everyone. And as these two capable actors work their way through this occasionally sentimental script, they uncover some universal truths -- especially about what things in life are worth treasuring. They may even inspire you to compile your own list of priorities to pursue before your toe hits the pail.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Bucket List.
If you were to find out you had a short time to live, what choices would you make? What things are you doing now that might not be so important?
You don’t have to be diagnosed with a terminal illness to take account of your priorities. How might writing your own “Bucket List” help you to consider and focus on your life goals?