The Bucket List

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Bucket List Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Bittersweet dramedy approaches death with humor.
  • PG-13
  • 2007
  • 98 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 13 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

For all of the bluster of one of the characters, the movie's overall message is heartwarming and affirming: A list filled with exotic adventures is fun, but the biggest task to check off before your time is up is staring life (or death) in the face and embracing its daily joys.


At one point, Cole and Chambers scream at each other on a sidewalk. A married couple also argues (not much screaming, but there's tension).


A flight attendant leaves an airplane washroom looking unkempt and fastening the buttons of her blouse; a man leaves the same washroom soon after (shenanigans are implied). A woman propositions a married man (he turns her down). Some semi-crass discussion of sex. A husband and wife embrace tenderly and reminisce about the first time they got together. One entry on the list is "to kiss the most beautiful woman in the room."


Everything from "goddammit" to "s--tty" to "f--king" (though the "F" word is used sparingly). One character gives another the finger.


Numerous raves for the kopi luwak, Indonesian coffee known to be the most expensive on earth. Signage for Cole's hospital, Reed Hill. A glimpse of a NYC taxi logo. One character loves to watch Jeopardy.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some drinking in social situations (restaurants, etc).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that although this movie is a comedy, it deals with cancer and death: The first half of the movie shows how the illness ravages the body and wrecks the spirit (or at least attempts to). Patients are shown getting their heads shaved, doubled over toilets retching, and wandering hospital corridors tethered to IVs. Through it all, there's a fair amount of strong language (including "f--k," though it's sparing). Ultimately, though, the film is about overcoming challenges and staring death in the face without blinking -- an uplifting note on which to end.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySakenyte January 5, 2019
Adult Written byDr3w November 29, 2011

Kick the Bucket

I couldn't help liking this movie. Sure, it had its issues. It wasn't as funny as it could have been (although I laughed very hard at times, especia... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bytheboysbros October 15, 2019
5 god damn and a use of ( you have no f**king idea who i am) my rating pg13- for brief strong language.
Teen, 13 years old Written byAGK July 15, 2018

Great, hilarious movie, but with some suggestive content

I love the movie for the comedy, but there is quite a bit of language, as well as some sexual references, and some drinking. Not for Pre-Teens.

What's the story?

Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson at his preening best) and Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman as his usual noble self) are exact opposites: One is a hedonistic multi-millionaire playboy, the other is a loyal, long-married mechanic. But when they're both stricken with cancer, they wind up roommates in one of Cole's hospitals and become fast friends. When their prognoses turn grim, they make a pact to complete a "bucket list" -- an inventory of things they need to do before they die -- and set out to complete it. Naturally, their plan isn't as simple as it sounds. Both have unfinished business back home, and soon their journeys are interrupted by real-life demands. They also have metaphorical baggage to unpack, the biggest of which is facing death knowing that they've made peace with their lives.

Is it any good?

Viewers looking for innovative storytelling and surprises won't find much of either in Rob Reiner's THE BUCKET LIST. It's straightforward and predictable, with nary a divergence from the standard Hollywood playbook. But that doesn't mean it's not engaging -- and for that, it has its two leads to thank. You have to give the producers props for trying, but it's all a bit too treacly. Save for one unexpected twist, within the first half hour, you can pretty much tell which loose ends will be tied up before the credits roll. (No offense to Freeman, but can we do away with his now-ubiquitous, gravitas-filled voiceover? The man has other talents.) Cole will be revealed to have a soul much more complicated than the movie first hints; Chambers will become a man much more conflicted than his serene exterior suggests. And you can bet that each helps the other fully realize his potential.

Still, there's a certain delight in seeing Nicholson and Freeman interact; it's a heavyweight duet in which Reiner clearly takes delight. He gives them time to playfully spar and do what each does best (Nicholson is playful, Freeman is grave). Maybe the next movie they'll be in -- and they ought to team up again -- will have a more insightful, original script. Though, truth be told, obvious as The Bucket List may be, you may find yourself hard pressed not to be moved -- if only a little -- in the end.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why Hollywood is enamored with movies about terminal illness (Terms of Endearment, Mask, My Life Without Me)? Why do you think that subject is so compelling to producers -- and audiences? How does this film find humor in the subject without going too far? What about it is realistic? And unrealistic? Do you know anyone who's battled cancer? What was that like?

Movie details

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