“The Bucket List,” review by Susan Granger

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It’s time to rejoice – the darkly comic The Bucket List is a gift for moviegoers.

Crusty, cranky corporate billionaire Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) and knowledgeable garage mechanic Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) become unlikely friends as they share a hospital room. Terminally ill with cancer yet feeling fine, they both realize they have ‘unfinished business.

In an exercise in forward thinking, they make a list of everything they want to do before they “kick the bucket” and embark on the most unlikely road trip you can imagine: skydiving, race car driving and laughing ‘till they cry. While they relish their high-flying adventures – exploring Egypt’s pyramids, a safari in Tanzania, the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China – they also learn more about themselves and what really matters on this often-confusing journey of life.

Charming Jack Nicholson’s sly, twisted nature has an irresistible appeal. As an actor, he is totally liberated, creating one of the most memorable characters this year, while Morgan Freeman is extraordinary, completely believable, delivering a quietly composed and curiously touching performance. Together, they get away with outrageous gallows humor and black comedy that would sink more timid thespians. Their tandem performances are near to perfection.

Evoking memories of “The Odd Couple” and “Grumpy Old Men,” screenwriter Justin Zackham’s dialogue is deft, intelligent and laced with an outrageous sense of humor, while veteran director Rob Reiner understands the frailty and absurdity of the human condition. While there are editing and continuity glitches, particularly the CGI superimposing the actors’ faces during the stunt work, they barely detract from the characters’ emotional wallop.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Bucket List” is a 9 – a heartfelt, wickedly funny, one-of-a-kind holiday treat.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.