Monday, December 29, 2008
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
If someone asked me to describe this movie in one word I would know exactly what to say without hesitation: interesting. This movie was definitely interesting.
You know how Brad Pitt has been in hottie action movies like Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Fight Club? And then he's also been in those loooooong sloooooooow movies like A River Runs Through It and Meet Joe Black? (Oh, you don't remember Meet Joe Black? Get in line.) But you sit through the long, slow movies because it's Brad Pitt and they keep showing his face?
Well, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button falls somewhere in the middle of these. It's long, it's slow, and they keep showing Brad's face, but it's all old and wrinkly and he's nearly unrecognizable for most of the movie. However, you keep watching not because you know that at some point they have to show Brad's beautiful face in all its youthful glory, but because you're fascinated. At least I was. My husband...not so much.
You've probably heard the intriguing premise of the story: A man ages backwards. This in and of itself piqued my interest enough to see the movie. On top of that, the much-talked about CGI they used to digitally age Brad Pitt made me curious. (No pun intended.) What I wanted to see was how it was going to work--a woman gives birth to an old man? Hmmm....
The story is told in a flashback, present-day being set in New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina is starting to hit. (Which explains Brad's housing projects there the last few years.) The story flashes back to 1918, the night Benjamin is born. I don't want to give too much away, but I will say that my questions were answered quickly: Benjamin is born a baby, with the health and characteristics of an old man. As he ages in years, he both grows like a normal person but becomes more youthful. Basically, you just have to see it to have any idea what I'm talking about.
The first half of the movie was slow. There were a lot of parts that dragged on and didn't seem to have anything to do with the rest of the movie. It reminded me a lot of Forrest Gump, the story spanning his entire life, told in flashbacks, characters coming in and out at the snap of a finger and the main character seemingly doing more in one lifetime than most people could do in four. Even the two characters were very similar, with their blank expressions and southern drawls and completely naive outlook on life. I actually laughed when I discovered today that the two movies had the same screenwriter.
Things picked up when Cate Blanchett finally made her appearance and the love story kicked in.
Brad finally looked like Brad, and this was the only time, in my opinion, that he showed any kind of personality. After so long of seeing that face hidden under all those wrinkles and bald head, it was so refreshing to see his real face. I was still a little restless, though, as two hours came and went and there was no signs of stopping. But the movie truly came to life at the end, with the love story coming full circle and Benjamin nearing the end of his life, this time, as a perfect pink newborn with dementia.
Like I said...interesting. The coolest part was that during the whole movie, I thought to myself, "This seems like it could be an old novel, some old classic that I've never heard of." I couldn't believe it when the credits rolled and there, in huge letters, said "Based on the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald." Am I the only one who had never heard of this?
Here are some of the things I liked and didn't like:
I liked the concept. It fascinated me. It was different from other movies, and I liked that.
I didn't like yet another movie that glorified adultery. (Note to Hollywood: If someone is married, it is not morally acceptable for them to sleep with someone else because that person is the love of their life. It doesn't put a one-night hold on their marriage license.)
I liked the aging CGI. It was amazing.
I did not like the "youthful CGI", i.e. lots of makeup and fuzzy lights. It made the characters look like they'd stepped out of an oil painting. Why was it easier for them to make Cate and Brad look 40 years older than ten years younger?
I liked the setting, in old New Orleans. I've always had a thing for New Orleans, and I loved that he was raised by a black woman who runs a nursing home.
I did not like the length, mainly because I can pinpoint the exact parts of the movie that could easily have been taken out and made the movie better for it.
My recommendation: Rent this. There's nothing you will miss seeing it on a small screen, and it's not worth the price of a movie ticket. It is worth the price of a movie rental, though, and definitely worth seeing once. Oh, except for you Nan, don't see this. Turns out they mean "button" literally. Lots and lots of buttons.