Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) is a car mechanic and a loving family man with a penchant for trivia. Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) is a billionaire with an appreciation for the finer things, but with an unsympathetic, boorish attitude. The two end up sharing a hospital room due to a corporate policy that Edward himself instated. Cue the theme to The Odd Couple.
Actually, in spite of their obvious differences, the two men share something important in common (besides being portrayed by popular Oscar-winning actors): both are terminally ill with the prognosis of mere months to live.
As they endure chemotherapy treatments together, Carter and Edward forge a friendship and begin talking about life and death. Recalling an assignment from his college philosophy class, Carter begins to write a "bucket list" of things he'd like to experience before he kicks said bucket. Staring at mortality, their deadlines looming, wealthy Edward makes some additions of his own and proposes that the two begin fulfilling their checklist, a journey that takes them around the world despite the protests of Carter's wife Virginia (Beverly Todd).
From there it's pretty obvious where this movie is headed. There are laughs to be had as the men live out some of their childish fantasies. Tears are shed, lives are changed. One man learns that in spite of what little he's experienced in his life, he's always had all he ever wanted. The other has everything, only to discover he has nothing. Predictable? Perhaps, but if nothing else, this movie reminds us of the importance of the journey.
The Bucket List strikes a nice balance between comedy and drama, favoring humor and poignant conversations over weepy developments. And it probably wouldn't have worked as well ...