Bad language just about empties 'Bucket' appeal


By Phil Boatwright
The Movie Reporter

The Bucket List
Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman
Director:  Rob Reiner
Rating: PG-13 for some language and adult situations


Two men with cancer and the prospect of death meet and become friends while sharing a room at a hospital. Jack Nicholson plays a cynical, lonely billionaire eventually led to a better way by Morgan Freeman’s good soul. Together they circumnavigate the world, crossing off items they wanted to accomplish before their life came to a close. 


It is such a pleasure to view two consummate old pros working seemingly effortlessly, scene after scene. Added to the fun performances, the screenplay incorporates travels to the world’s most exotic locales, including the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids, and Mount Everest.


Unlike most films dealing with a lead character facing death, this one actually addresses the afterlife. While the Freeman character explains what other religions say about the hereafter, a scene of him and his family praying over a meal indicates that Christianity has been his spiritual path. He’s a man with foibles of his own, but his patient, forgiving and compassionate heart reflects a sincere response to his faith, and this obviously has an affect on the Nicholson character.       


Perhaps it’s a bit talky for younger filmgoers, but I think “vintage” movie lovers will appreciate the story being moved along by character development rather than by things that go boom.


My dilemma: Two great actors discussing spiritual matters vs. the film’s objectionable language. I was uplifted by everything but the careless use of God’s name, and that of his son’s (mostly by the embittered Nicholson character). I don’t know how to advise concerned moviegoers troubled by Hollywood’s infatuation with profanity. Does the profundity outweigh the profanity? It’s your call.


Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Allison Janney, J.K. Simmons
Director:  Jason Reitman
Rating: PG-13 for language and adult situations


A smart teen becomes pregnant after her first sexual encounter and decides to have the baby, giving it up to an adoptive “perfect” couple. 

Starting out with the same cynical attitude we’ve seen in a jillion teen angst movies, intermingled with lots of biting humor, the film soon reveals a perceptive look at today’s high school crowd, with the lead rather blasé about her world until grownup situations take charge of her emotions. As soon as Juno discovers she’s pregnant, her first notion is to have an abortion (tells you where the society is, doesn’t it?), but without the filmmakers attempting a flagrant pro-life statement, the sanctity of unborn life quickly becomes apparent.


Ellen Page comes across as a young Janeane Garofalo, sharp tongued and quick witted, but the actress, allows a vulnerability to shine through her toughness. Page gives a three-dimensional performance as a teenager smarter than her peers in many ways, yet still unaware of the complexities of adulthood. Juno is funny, moving and completely engaging.