For Christian viewers looking to read their own faith into Chambers’ character, there’s less here than meets the eye. They’ll also have to look past Cole’s vulgarity, profanity and dim view of marriage to get to the ultimate lesson. Those in a forgiving mood may leave the theater entertained, but many will find Cole’s moral awakening thin gruel to justify depictions of his hedonism—which, admittedly, could’ve been a whole lot worse—throughout the film.

When given the chance to explain his faith to Cole, Chambers makes a case for the Creator, but the film never gets much more specific, settling for talk about how we’re all “streams … flowing into rivers … into heaven”—not much more orthodox a sentiment than Hurt’s New-Age spirituality in The Doctor.

It’s a pat answer for a pat film, with two great actors delivering familiar performances (not bad performances, but nothing we haven’t seen before) in a movie that has no surprises. It’s all very pleasantly predictable. On a cinematic level, it’s also flat. Although it becomes a travelogue of sorts, as the men jet around the globe, the movie never captures the slightest glimmer of awe and majesty that the characters constantly speak about. The Bucket List is a big-budget film with a very small-screen look. Its most inventive shot—a pair of TV-watching spectacles that give Nicholson’s eyes the appearance of a bug—is just a drop in this bucket of pablum that passes for entertainment.

If pablum’s your thing, this is the movie for you. If not, there are more nourishing choices available.

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  • Language/Profanity:  Lord’s name taken in vain several times; profanity; discussion of suicide; crude references to bodily functions.
  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Smoking; drinking.
  • Sex/Nudity:  Cole speaks favorably of orgies; a penis reference; a stewardess exits a private encounter with Edward Cole, buttoning her blouse.
  • Marriage:  Cole has been married four times and speaks poorly of his previous wives; Chambers is struggling in his marriage, but has always been faithful to his wife.
  • Violence/Disturbing Imagery:  A man coughs up blood; vomiting; a surgical scar on a man’s shaved head; blood stain on a man’s shirt.
  • Religion:  Positive portrayal of family prayer and grace before a meal; an Egyptian myth about what it takes to get into heaven.