(director: Rob Reiner; screenwriter: Justin Zackham; cinematographer: John Schwartzman; editor: Robert Leighton; music: Marc Shaiman; cast: Jack Nicholson (Edward Cole), Morgan Freeman (Carter Chambers), Sean Hayes (Thomas), Beverly Todd (Virginia Chambers), Alfonso Freeman (Roger), Rob Morrow (Dr. Hollins), Rowena King (Angelica); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Craig Zadan, Neil Meron, Alan Greisman, Rob Reiner; Warner Bros; 2007)

“A schmaltzy serio-comic feel-good film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A schmaltzy serio-comic feel-good film about dying and learning life lessons. It’s flatly directed by Rob Reiner (“Being Charlie”/”LBJ”) and insipidly written by Justin Zackham. The easygoing black auto mechanic Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) and the prickly billionaire Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) are both terminally ill with cancer when they first meet sharing a hospital room in the hospital Cole owns. The reason for the share is Cole’s equality policy of all rooms furnished with two beds. Both are projected to live for about a year. When not watching Jeopardy or getting treatments, Chambers busies himself making a list of things he would like to do before kicking the bucket. His list includes such things as ‘witnessing something majestic,’ while Cole adds to the list such things as skydiving and racecar driving. Though Chambers’ wife Virginia (Beverly Todd) strongly objects, both men check out of the hospital together and start executing their bucket list with private jet trips to the South of France, South Africa, the Pyramids, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, the Himalayas and Hong Kong. The men pause to ruminate about what changes they would envision in their life. Chambers is sorry he didn’t become a history professor, as he was prevented by growing up in a family of pressing economic needs. While Cole relates to being divorced three times and his daughter Emily cutting him off from her life. Thomas (Sean Hayes) is Cole’s efficient but dull personal assistant from his business, who accompanies the men on the trip and arranges for their travel needs. It’s watchable and somewhat endearing only because Freeman and Nicholson acting together is worth checking out. But the star vehicle comedy is thin, its sentimentality is laid on too thick and its quest for meaningful insights (which often are sound) in reality just keep things listless.

REVIEWED ON 1/30/2017 GRADE: C+   https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/