"A survey once asked 1,000 people if they could know the exact date of their death would they want to know? 96% said No. I tended to agree with the other four percent." So says Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman). These intermittent voiceovers by the character lend a nice touch to this film, directed by Rob Reiner. Morgan Freeman has the most soothing voice in Hollywood. I'm with you, Carter! I'd give anything to know the exact date of my death because I'd have one hell of a time beginning six months prior!! I'd quit my job yesterday, empty my bank accounts and do EXACTLY what this mismatched odd couple did: stay in uber-luxurious European hotels, eat at five-star restaurants, and see up close the Pyramids of Egypt and Mount Everest. Of all my favorite films listed here this doesn't have the wittiest dialogue or most interesting characters or slickest plot...it's the premise that makes it so dear to me...it is the most thought provoking..what exactly would YOU do if you only had months to live? It's something I've always thought about. Would you go home and watch friends and relatives tip-toe around you, not knowing what to say? Or would you have the most fun you've ever had in your life?
CARTER CHAMBERS is a long-married auto mechanic and a trivia fountain who relaxes watching JEOPARDY or doing crossword puzzles. Though he has children and grandchildren who love and respect him he regrets that he never became a history professor because he had to quit college when his wife became pregnant. "I always meant to go back but 25 years goes by pretty fast."
Edward Cole (NICHOLSON) is an obnoxious greedy businessman who buys hospitals for fun and profit. The way he treats his assistant makes Miranda Priestly in THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA look like Boss of the year. He's been married four times but the only loves in his life are his work and Kopi Luwak coffee, the most expensive in the world. The last time I checked it was $300 a pound. He has no friends or family to visit him, except his assistant Thomas. (SEAN HAYES). He tries to cut costs by taking away from the hospital patients: "I run hospitals, not health spas. Two beds to a room--no exceptions!!" Until HE gets sick and has to be a patient in his own hospital. I wish that would happen to every CEO of every hospital and every health insurance company in the world!
This odd couple, because fate threw them together, become fast friends. When Edward discovers Carter's list of things he wants to do "before he kicks the bucket" he convinces Carter that they should really do all the items on the list and do them together. "What did the doctor give us? Six months? You think 45 years went by fast?; But Carter doesn't need his arm twisted because he and his wife Virginia grew apart when the nest emptied out.
The only thing wrong with this movie is the waste of Sean Hayes' talent. He played the hilarious Jack on the WILL AND GRACE TV sticom and JERRY LEWIS in a made-for-tv movie about Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. He is the funniest comedian since Robin Williams but they have him in a straight role with few scenes and dialogue. Anybody could have played the role of Thomas. They could have cut some of Virginia's scenes and given Sean some funnier dialogue.
I don't think it's spoiling the ending if I tell you the inevitable happened, and of course I cried...buckets! But before they went both men saved each other in a spiritual sense. "Edward Cole lived more in his last days on earth than most people manage to wring out of a lifetime." And that's exactly how I want to go.
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