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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - For those tired of bleak and scary movies this Christmas, veteran actors Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freedman suggest an alternative.
Nicholson and Freeman, both Oscar winners, both in their 70s and champions of their craft, think "The Bucket List," their film about a couple of mismated old guys who share the same cramped hospital room and same incurable disease -- cancer -- could be the most inspiring movie of the season.
Cancer usually doesn't produce laughs, nor does being old and cranky. But Nicholson, in a recent joint interview with Freeman, said they might have stumbled onto something -- a feel good movie about all the things that make people feel bad.
"I put on a screening for friends and I saw four or five people reconciling in the lobby," Nicholson said. "I think we are on to something -- our film may be the only upper out there."
Nicholson plays the millionaire owner of a hospital chain whose motto is two patients to every room. He then gets trapped into a friendship with Freeman, the black owner of a garage, who had to drop out of college early to support his family, when the two are assigned the same room.
Freeman's character has the idea of making a "bucket list" of all the things he'd like to do before dying and Nicholson finances the trip for both of them as their friendship blossoms.
"Like the hippies used to say, everyone's dying whether they know it or not," Nicholson said as both he and Freeman broke into laughter.
Advanced reviews have been mixed. Newsday described it as "a sodden comedy," while Variety complained that the film had "not an ounce of reality," but would probably be a hit anyway.
The Village Voice said the movie had a "sexist streak," and Nicholson seemed to be "gunning hard" for another Oscar nomination.
The script marks the debut effort of Justin Zackham, a struggling screenwriter who was on the verge of leaving Hollywood. He gave it one last shot with "The Bucket List," which he wrote in two weeks.
It was turned down by every producer in town until it ended up with director Rob Reiner, who made "When Harry Met Sally" (1989) and "A Few Good Men" (1992).
As for Nicholson's "Bucket List," he claims not to have one, because if he wants to do something, he can do it tomorrow. However one co-worker said she recently heard him say he wanted one last big romance.
As for Freeman, he recently told a newspaper interviewer that he would like to work with William H Macy (which he's doing now) and produce a movie that wins Best Picture.
Both men said they'd be happy to work with each again and even start playing golf together.
The film opens on Christmas Day in a handful of cities and nationally on Jan 11.
additional reporting by Dean Goodman, editing by Alan Elsner