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Jack's back — for lucky #13 Oscar bid?

August 13, 2007 | 11:55 am

Bucket_list_2Pay no attention to the Jan. 18, 2008 release date at for "The Bucket List," which stars Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as terminally ill rascals who escape from a cancer ward and take off on a road trip with a wish list of things to do before they kick the bucket.

A Warner Bros. rep confirms that it'll be released in derby-friendly December, but, beware: it's largely a comedy, a genre Oscar voters often laugh off. And Rob Reiner directed it. Sure, that means the pic is probably good ("The Princess Bride," "This Is Spinal Tap"), but he's not quite an academy darling. Reiner's been nommed three times by DGA ("A Few Good Men," "When Harry Met Sally," "Stand By Me"), but he's never been acknowledged by the academy's directors' branch despite the fact that the full membership nommed "A Few Good Men" for best pic.

However, Nicholson earned a supporting nom for starring in "Good Men," so maybe he can be a contender again. He'll compete in the lead race for "Bucket List," but it's currently unclear if Freeman will go lead, too, or supporting. Jack should've been nommed in supporting for best-pic champ "The Departed," but he didn't clear up category confusion until too late so he ended up slipping between the category cracks. This end-of-life road-trip role in "Bucket List" looks a lot like his turn in "About Schmidt," which was his last nom. The actors' branch seems to like Reiner flicks. Kathy Bates won a lead trophy for Reiner's "Misery."

Jack needs to hurry up, if he wants to catch up to Meryl Streep in the race for most nominations. Current score: Jack 12, Meryl (the champ) 14. Meryl's not slowing down. She's got two more shots this year: "Rendition" and "Lions for Lambs."

Early word is that Jack's endearing in "Bucket List," especially in a poignant scene in which he reconciles with his long-lost daughter. Plus he gets to deliver a splashy, 20-gallon, tear-jerker speech near the end. In between are lots of laughs as the madcap boys race cars, gamble recklessly in a casino and gobble a giant plate of caviar.

(Photo: AMPAS)