As Benjamin Franklin famously Tweeted, there are only two things that are certain in this life: death and taxes. (Death & Taxes is the name of your Lower East Side “speakeasy.”) And as Gandalf famously wrote on his Tumblr, “Hey, don’t kill that goblin, because you only get to choose what to do with the time you are given, and it is our time down here, up there it is their time but it is our time down here. Now let’s go save those Goondocks using my magic tricks!” The point is: death comes to all of us, and we don’t know what happens next, so it’s probably a pretty smart move to make the most of our time here while we’ve still got it. This is a philosophy that I agree with and subscribe to! It is hard to do, actually. Most of life, at least it seems to me, is one long string of worries and disappointments, even when you are kind of aware that the worries and disappointments are valueless in the grand scheme of things and that you should probably be way more Elizabeth Gilbert (minus the being an asshole and the insufferable self-congratulations) about the whole thing. But still, we try. And so, in that sense, I respect one of the underlying premises of The Bucket List. We should all be so lucky when faced with the reality of our own deaths to skydive or whatever the fuck. Eat a nice dinner. Why not?! Yes!

OK, cool, so, now that we have talked about the thing that I respect about The Bucket List, let’s talk about the things that I do not respect:

Most everything else about it! The Bucket List is about Morgan Freeman, who is a car mechanic who happens to be VERY good at answering trivia questions (because, it will turn out, he wanted to be a history professor, and you know how THEY are about trivia) and Jack Nicholson, who is a billionaire crabapple who owns a bunch of hospitals. That will prove to be very ironic when he gets sick and has to go to one. LOL. They are roommates in Kancer Korner. “Wait, wouldn’t a billionaire have his own room if he was diagnosed with cancer and needed surgery and radiation treatments?” Don’t worry, there is a boring explanation for that in the exposition! Besides, if you didn’t unnaturally force them into a set-piece together, these two characters would never be able to have a cliche bonding experience that transforms them from begrudging enemies into very best friends!

One night, as these things happen, BOTH MEN ARE DIAGNOSED WITH SIX MONTHS TO LIVE. Sure. (Let me tell you something right now: that’s not even a problem as far as this movie is concerned, so let’s just move on.) The next morning, they are both about to check out of the hospital and go home and await death when Jack Nicholson picks up a crumpled piece of paper off the floor and reads it, the way billionaires are constantly doing (actually, to be fair to the Bucket List’s accuracy in the portrayal of billionaires, he does have his assistant pick it up and hand it to him) and is like “what is this? Bu…buck…bucket liisssst? What is a bucket list?!” Morgan Freeman explains that his philosophy professor in college gave them a SNORE I AM ASLEEP. Shut up, Morgan Freeman. It’s not that mind-blowing to make a list of the things you’d like to do before you die, so spare me the backstory. Every list on his item, incidentally, is very college sophomore (female), like, “laugh until I cry” and “see something beautiful.” Oh good grief! LAUGH UNTIL YOU CRY?! Anyway, Jack Nicholson makes some adjustments to the list including “skydive” and “get a tattoo” (which is also very college sophomore, just with a different class schedule) and off they go on their trip. Is Morgan Freeman’s wife happy that her husband was just given six months to live and now he is leaving on an adventure? No she is not. Should we address that issue? Let’s just jump out of a plane.

So, the boys have an adventure. They race cars! They eat a dinner in France! They go to the Himalayas but it is cloudy! So…mostly they just live Jack Nicholson’s normal billionaire life? Oh, it sounds nice, I am just saying. His Bucket List seems to mostly just be his iCal. Eventually, Morgan Freeman decides that it is time to go home and see his wife. Then the two boys have a fight because Morgan Freeman tries to get Jack Nicholson to reconnect with his estranged daughter. “Just because I told you my life story does not invite you to be a part of it.” Well, no, I thought inviting him on a tour around the world on your private jet was what invited him to be a part of it. Anyway, I guess we are supposed to feel sad for Jack Nicholson because all he has is a fancy house filled with hookers (#theoriginalwinning) and happy for Morgan Freeman because he has a more “comfy” (but still really nice!) house filled with a family, but then Morgan Freeman dies and then Jack Nicholson says hi to his daughter and dies, so they’re both dead, and Morgan Freeman is narrating the whole movie from heaven so I guess they go to heaven, although Jack Nicholson doesn’t narrate the movie and Morgan Freeman’s ghost makes no mention of their current relationship it is all in the past tense so make of that what you will. The end.

Here’s a question: who is this movie for? Is it for people who are dying? Because if it is for people who are dying: YIKES. It can’t be for people who are dying, right? OK, so it is for people who are alive. But what people? This is supposed to be a touching buddy comedy, but most of the jokes involve, like, vomiting from chemotherapy, or Jack Nicholson teasing Morgan Freeman because the only person he has ever slept with is his wife, although isn’t that supposed to be kind of a nice thing? (Also: in real life Morgan Freeman FUCKED HIS GRANDAUGHTER, REMEMBER THAT? Cross THAT off the Bucket List.) Look, I know that death and illness are important stitches in the fabric of life, and I actually PREFER dark and serious comedies that make light of the tragedy of the human experience, but that’s not what this is. This is Wild Cancer Hogs. So the question remains unanswered: who is this movie for?

And let’s do a little more unpacking of the movie’s message. As I mentioned, I’m all for people making the most of their time on Earth, even if they’re in full health! And if you are faced with impending death, there is nothing wrong with trying to turn it into a celebration of life. Sort of. But, like, when Morgan Freeman decides to go on this trip with the cranky dude he just met, he doesn’t patiently explain to his wife why this is important to him, or what kind of peace of mind it will provide in the face of the great unknown. He just snaps at her that he’s done enough for his fucking family and it’s time for him to get some Quality Morgan Time. Whoa, buddy! Is that really how you want to go out? Also: while I understand (as much as someone who has not had to personally struggle with these issues can understand) how someone might not have any patience for the wills and desires of others when seeing his or her own time running out, but you actually do kind of have a responsibility to helping your family cope with their own sense of panic and loss. Sorry! Them’s the breaks! Sucks to be you, make believe character in a buddy comedy about cancer!

On top of that, there is the very real problem that not anyone (basically no one) gets a billionaire for a roommate when they are hospitalized with terminal and inoperable cancer. So, a lot of people simply don’t have the means to go on a trip around the world in a private jet. That’s OK! We are almost all of us in that very same boat. But movies like this always make this logically incongruous point that somehow the most important things in life are not the things that cost money, but that we can only arrive at that understanding by having access to so much money. Huh. What this movie suggests is that before you die, you should definitely live like a billionaire but then go home to the loving family of a man who has foregone his dreams for the sake of having a family. WAIT, HOW DO WE DO THAT?!

And then, of course, there are the faces. The Bucket Faces.

The Bucket List is not the Worst Movie of All Time. I even got a little misty eyed at the end when Jack Nicholson speaks at Morgan Freeman’s SPOILER ALERT funeral, because I always get misty-eyed at funerals, even fake funerals, like, for example, I cried through the entire episode of Family Ties where Michael Keaton’s grandfather died? MOGUL GETS EMOTIONAL! But it is still a very weird and weak movie combining super trite statements about life and happiness with a completely nonsensical message about the value of a billion dollars. If you have not seen this movie yet, might I suggest that you add the following line item to your own bucket list: “die without having seen The Bucket List. Spend that hour and a half doing ANYTHING ELSE.”

Next time: Garden State. As always, please leave your suggestions in the comments or in an email. And if you haven’t done so already, please consult the Official Rules.

Comments (138)
  1. Saw a green bucket today! Finally! Another item crossed off my bucket list.

  2. I would like to once again resume my (sporadic) nomination of Kevin Costners “The Postman”.

    This truly dreadful film was directed by Costner AFTER Waterworld, who must use the mantra “if you fail at delivering a Post-apocalyptic film, try and try again.” And throw in some awful dialogue and lots of scenes of yourself looking heroic and patriotic for good measure, then stretch that out to 3 painful hours.

    • Also I must backup my nomination with this amazing IMDB review I just found.

      Top 10 things I would rather do than watch this film ever again.

      #10. Listen to Bobby McFarren’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy” for two hours straight.
      #9. Beat myself in the head continuously with a 9 iron while watching a complete round of LPGA golf.
      #8. Quit my job and join the postal service.
      #7. Watch Waterworld again….wait….yeah OK, watch Waterwold.
      #6. Spend an afternoon antique shopping with my mother in law on super bowl Sunday.
      #5. Eating five pounds of raw squid and power vomit for two hours.
      #4. Ride one leg of the Tour De France on a bike with a fireplace poker for a seat.
      #3. Get stuck in an small, sweaty, service elevator with Bjork, Bobcat Goldthwait, and Fran Drescher for two hours.
      #2. Eat and poop 10 large pinecones. The pokey kind, not the flakey kind.
      #1. Turn this director’s cut edition I rented into some sort of pointy edged weapon, then hunt and kill Kevin Costner for sport with it. Preferably on horseback or jetski.

  3. Somewhere in this world, there is a person whose favourite movie is “The Bucket List” and that person will probably die of cancer.

  4. ain’t no party like a cancer party!

  5. Kevin Spacey: I had always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the second before you die. First of all, that one second isn’t a second at all, it stretches on forever, like an ocean of time..

    Morgan Freeman: Edward Perriman Cole died in May. It was a Sunday afternoon, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky…

    Kevin Spacey: WHOA! Hey, do you mind. I have the heaven narration booth booked until 5:00 p.m.

    Morgan Freeman: Well, it’s 4:55 right now, how long do you think you’ll be?

    Kevin Spacey: Oh. Gee. I don’t know. How about 5 mins?!

    Mufasa: Guys, guys! Sorry to interrupt. You guys using the narration cloud?

  6. And then I got to the end (of the post, not the movie, AS IF), and all I could think was, “This is Jack. Jack had bitch tits.”

  7. This is how I felt after watching this movie:

  8. Let’s see what the *real* bucket expert has to say on this movie.

  9. When this movie came out, my mom heard about it and decided to make a bucket list for herself and my dad. No matter how much she tried, she just couldn’t get my dad into the idea. She talked about the trips they could take, the things they could see, the sounds, the taste, the feeling of LIFE it could bring them. He would always chuckle and go back to reading some technology or woodworking magazine.

    It still makes me sad that she’ll never get to that bucket list because my dad threw it out while he was recycling magazines. After a couple of glasses of sherry, she still gives him shit about that.

    • Now this, this movie I love.

    • I would like to give Bookface the Pulitzerface for this comment.

    • Your dad’s the smart one, because once you finish your bucket list you die, duh.
      Me? Neeeeever gonna finish my bucket list.

    • Why doesn’t she do some of the things by herself then (assuming she has enough money to travel here and there). Even if it’s just occasional holidays she just go away sometimes by herself if she wants to. That’s what my mum did when my dad didn’t want to go to places. I plan to travel a lot and if my mum or anyone else didn’t want to go I’d just go by myself. Life is too short to not do these things because of other people.

  10. I feel as if the whole Hunt has been building up to next week’s review of Garden State. *excited squee*

    • True story once upon a time I wanted to write movies (because I was in high school whaddyou want?) and I wrote this movie about an office drone milquetoast and the very first scene was him waking up in his room but everything was completely white and there was no decoration or anything and the sheets and the furniture anyway even me retardo Sofomore de High School thought: no way, that’s too stupid and obvious. If you ever saw that in a movie, you would hate it!

      I, too, am excited for Garden State

    • I’m taking bets for how many comments there will be for next weeks review of Garden State. I think it will set a new record for most comments on a videogum post.

    • Can’t wait for the State!

    • Yes!
      I fucking hate that movie

  11. My bucket list includes finding the funniest image with FUCK YEAH attached to it.

    So far it’s a tie between “Haters Gonna Hate” and “Giraffe”

  12. This is my bucket list:

    20 pieces of Original Recipe.

  13. I have only two items on my bucket list:

    “Wheedle my way into the life of a billionaire until I am the only person he wants to spend time with in his last six months on Earth, which ideally is the six months starting now.”

    “Wear something nice to the reading of the will.”

  14. Morgan Freeman fucked his granddaughter? Jesus…

    • um, I too feel that little tidbit needs more explanation.. however, I am terrified to Google those words.

      • that was my reaction too! like, as if that makes it better. Gabe keeps ruining people for me. what was the one last week? i think someone killed someone. or something? i don’t know.

      • Okay so actually looking around a while about this, I’ve concluded two things:

        1) There is absolutely no source for this other than people repeating The National Enquirer. Which, let’s face it, is kind of insane. So I’d say maybe hold off on thinking that it’s at all true until ANYONE ELSE has ANY information about it, which one hopes would eventually have leaked since the original “revelation” was in august of 2009

        2) Morgan Freeman legally adopted the girl’s mother, so in the eyes of the law as far as I know the woman is his daughter, and the child is his granddaughter, despite the many MANY blog posts referring to her as his step granddaughter. Just to make a distinction.

  15. [Insert Jack-Nicholson-looks-like-a-walrus-bucket joke here]

  16. what is the truly majestic thing they witness?
    what makes them laugh until they cry?

  17. I would like to nominate Greenberg. It was truly awful and unwatchable in just about every way. Shitty people do not equal complex, flawed characters, Noah Baumbach!


  19. I liked this movie better when it was called Bubba Ho-Tep and instead of sky-diving they fought a soul-sucking mummy. Bucket list, consider yourself emptied.

    I do not have a bucket list. When I’m dying I don’t want to be able to quantify my satisfaction or lack thereof with life. That seems like a bummer to me. Darn, my life was only 40% fulfilling! Oh, well.

    • I think Jack signed up for that movie with the mummy that sucks souls out of asses, but he got this movie instead (which I guess still sucks souls out of asses, so win-win?)

    • olivececile’s comment about Bubba Ho-Tep is both correct and insightful, and deserves ALL the upvotes.

  20. I nominate The Kid’s are Alright.

  21. Dear Gabe,

    Three words: Synecdoche, New York

    When I’m down in the mean reds & need to just cry for no good reason (for all reasons?), I watch this movie. I get something new from each viewing, and for that I love it and Charlie Kaufman.

    BUT, not everyone feels this way. Many people think it’s the worst movie they’ve ever seen, and for that reason I nominate Synecdoche, New York, the best hot debate (never forget) that ever was.

    Also, it meets all of the WMOAT criteria, so what’s stopping you?


  22. I would like to nominate The Good Shepard. Seriously one of the only movies I have ever walked out on and I have seen some shit movies!

  23. I don’t remember what commenter originally pitched this, but I am on board with it:

    I nominate Vanilla Sky. It’s definitely one of those movies you see in high school and every thinks it is so brilliant because it has a twist ending and every one thinks the twist ending is so mind blowing and also back then nobody knew that twist endings are generally garbage.

    But regardless, this is a film that has not gotten better with age, and also Tom Cruise probably thought he was doing some of his best acting work in this film but really he was just doing a really bad Al Pacino impression (late 90s Al Pacino acting, not 1970s Al Pacino acting).


  24. So there’s this moment when scrolling down this blog entry where I had to choose which image would be on the screen while I read the paragraph in between: Morgan Freeman’s really horrible teeth or Jack Nicholson’s B-cup Moobs. Both images are NSFW.

    It’s just been that kind of day, really.

  25. As bad as this movie was, the coining of the term “Wild Cancer Hogs” just about makes up for it.

  26. You guys, I just saw The Invention of Lying last night and it was terrible. I love Ricky Gervais, but I did not love that movie. But it had so much promise! But it was so bad!

  27. I hereby and henceforth unto eternity vote for SYNEDOCHE, NEW YORK as it represents, by itself, the whole collective herd of shit upper middle class urban films about nothing. Get it? Yeah, PhD in English Literature well spent…(#patheticbrag)

  28. STILL literally the worst movie ever made EVER:

    “Wow, that movie is really racist.” -Leni Riefenstahl

    • “Wow, girlphilospher! That reference is perfect!” – R2D2, Esq.

    • Also, Kim Cattrall’s head/absent half-of-neck on that poster will never not make me laugh.
      “We need her to fit onto the poster!” “Just remove half of her neck instead of making her smaller or showing less of her legs. PROBLEM SOLVED!”

  29. Gabe writing about chemo/dying reminds me of an email I sent him last year.

    I spent 10 days in the hospital for my last round of (unsuccessful) chemo, which led to the beginning of dialysis. I was pretty much fine with everything on an emotional level, but I definitely did have one of those “stare out the window” moments. About 90 seconds into it I thought “….NICKELBACK LYRICS” (a la Jack) and laughed for about a minute. Now, what was SUPPOSED to be a hilarious, heartwarming email to Gabe turned into an awkward email that translated into “hey, some vital organs of mine started working but it’s OK because you make fun of a show I like and I like that too.” Probably creeped him out, but his reply was nice.

    I’m great now, though. Got a transplant. Super healthy. Running regularly for the first time since high school.

    Oh, and chemo jokes are hilarious if you’ve been through it. My two friends with testicular cancer and I will occasionally laugh about chemo/fertility clinics/horrible chemo roommates.

  30. This movie features two guys who decide to do a lot of expensive things, and thanks to the deus ex machina of “billionaire,” they are able to accomplish all of them pretty goddamn easily. It is “Entourage,” with cancer. QED.

  31. I kinda liked it.

  32. I would like to nominate Dogma, the Kevin Smith garbagepiece that made cringe for an hour and a half even though I have a huge girlboner for the Damon & Affleck bromance and Jason Lee is in it. 4 words: Alanis Morisette as God.

  33. True Story: I saw Bucket List two years ago, but I don’t remember it at all because I was too busy barfing.

    I was on a ferry boat traveling between islands in the Caribbean. I got sea sick and spent the entire trip throwing up into a bag. In between hurls, I would look up at the TV above my seat and watch Bucket List. Fuck that movie.

    • I feel like when you were vomiting continually while watching The Bucket List on a boat in the Caribbean, you were actually, without knowing it, doing some pretty good performance art?

  34. my bucket list consists of “firing a gun wildly into the air” “eating a scone” and sexually harassing a number of male celebrities. also having the coolest story. whoops I’m dead.

    Will Ferrell accountant, gratuitous rape scene, magic ham radio for nominations, in that order.

  35. It’s possible I’m the only one consistently nominating Must Love Dogs (a Gary David Goldberg joint) because I’m the only one stupid enough to have seen it at all. Fair enough! It’s terrible! Why would you want to have seen it?! But that’s just my point. It’s THE WORST. And not in a “This movie rubbed me the wrong way” or “You love it or you hate it” kind of way. Straight-up bad. It may not have gotten good reviews, or any awards, or done well at the box office, but it DESERVES to be recognized by the Hunt.

    Also: please?

  36. I would like to nominate 100 Girls for The Hunt. This movie is pure misogyny. downright insulting.

  37. I would like to nominate:

    “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” and “Gummo.”

  38. I don’t know why it continues to be ignored, but VALENTINE’S DAY is the worst movie ever. Topher Grace would agree, so don’t worry about hurting his feelings.

  39. Need to list a few more films I’d like to nominate;

    “Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen” (a 2 hour headache that is easily in my top 10!)

    “Handcock” (We’re superheroes, we’re gods, man is flawed by design! I DON’T FUCKING CARE!)

    “I Heart Huckabees” (You’re not existential if you keep announcing it assholes)

    “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” (No, It really isn’t!)

    “Ghost Rider” (You’re kidding, right?)

    “Rock Star” (Not even a karaoke hero)

  40. Gabe this was so funny I spit Fruity Pebbles EVERYWHERE. Also I am a female sophomore in college…THANKS FOR REPPIN’ US!

  41. Garden state? The end of the hunt is nigh.

  42. My Bucket List:

    1. Take care of my teeth so they don’t end up like Morgan Freeman’s.

  43. The Book of Eli absolutely deserves consideration. It fits all of the criteria. . . and it has that extra-pretentious grainy washed-out look combined with 4th-rate theology that elevates bad movies into dreadful ones. Give it a think! Love this list.

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  45. there’s a hole in my bucket list, dear liza

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