Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

I finally saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button this weekend. There's nothing like a three day break to catch up on movies. In the beginning, I had a few thoughts:
"This movie is awesome."
"That tiny old dude is adorable. Where can I get one?"
"I should really admit that Brad Pitt is my favorite actor. But what will my friends say?"
Then about half-way through, I started thinking:
"Man this movie is really boring."
"Cate Blanchett sure likes to 'sleep' with people."
"Shouldn't he have turned into a fetus?"

Benjamin Button held my attention for a little while. Brad Pitt's portrayal of the little guy was truly endearing. I've always been a fan of Brad Pitt and I feel bad for the guy sometimes. I think the Hollywood hype surrounding him takes away his credibility as an actor. I think I should probably just stop watching Access Hollywood. He really is a fantastic actor. In addition to playing this little kid in an old man's body, he's played some pretty off the wall characters: There's the goofy trainer from Burn After Reading, Tyler Durden in Fight Club, the twitchy schizophrenic in Twelve Monkeys, Mickey from Snatch, and my personal favorite, Floyd from True Romance. Pitt's performance in Benjamin Button is no exception. He's funny and doesn't take himself too seriously. Several of his scenes require him to act using only his face, which was digitally grafted onto a child's body. I imagine that would be pretty tough to pull off.

The special effects were amazing as well. We've all heard about how cool the age enhancement technology looked. But more than that, the environments were beautiful. When Benjamin is working on a tugboat, the ocean and sky around him look like something from a Broadway stage. The buildings during the downtown scene appear this way as well, and rather than cheapen the look of the film, they bring a fantasy/storybook feel to it.

But after a while, these things start to fade. The audience is constantly reintroduced to the same characters over and over again, year after year, and it kind of gets old. And I could not care less about Daisy, Cate Blanchett's character. She's not nice, she's not cute, and she seems so uninterested in Benjamin. I'm not sure if that was the intention, or if Cate just phoned it in. I usually like Cate so I was pretty disappointed.

Button was written for the screen by the same guy who wrote Forrest Gump. So one should expect a moving, meaningful film full of classic one liners and memorable quotes. I mean, "Life is like a box of chocolates," is probably one of the most famous movie quotes ever right? This time, we get, "You never know what's comin' for ya." What does that mean? Something is coming for me? Well what is it? Freddy Kruger? That line is so generic, they could have just said, "Something is going to happen," but nothing ever does. The viewer is constantly reminded that something is coming, but we're left wondering what it is. At the end there's a really corny moment where he reflects on all the people he's met implying they've influenced his life in a profound way. But he doesn't say how. And the reason he doesn't say how is because they really didn't.

Button had so much potential, but the story was lame. The special effects were amazing, and Brad Pitt was great. But there wasn't a plot. People come and go, Benjamin talks to them, and that's it. So rather than anticipating the next twist in the story, I found myself waiting for Benjamin to get older/younger to see what he'd look like. At one point they made him look so young, I swear they used scenes from this movie:

What is the dark side exactly, Brad? Having to wear sunglasses? Yeah, that's a drag. But you showed them! You are so rebel cool.

Here are some clips if you can stand it... The Dark Side of the Sun

Oh yeah, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button gets 3 diapers.

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