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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Movie title: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Grade: B- (3 stars)
Rated: PG-13
Summation: The story of a man’s life as he is born old and gets younger with age.
Spoilers ahead: No

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If my heart was set on conquering the world, it wouldn't be beyond me to unleash this movie on an unsuspecting populace. Entire nations may very well fall victim to my whims as they abide helpless, sobbing their eyes out. With well over two hours of tearjerking drama, the people will beg to serve me! Muhahahahaha!

This one is a love-it-or-hate-it film. You either thrive off of the sickly-sweet love story, swollen up for uncritical theatrical minds, or you find it to be overkill. It's a love story with a fantasy plot. You don't need to question it. Just suspend the disbelief and ride with the romantic flare if you can.

At first, I couldn't figure out what I had on my hands. Benjamin's birth and the care he required as an “old” youngster seemed to drag on forever. That's what the whole movie is about. Can you imagine the mechanics of being born old and growing young instead of the other way around like the way things normally are? Just take a few brief moments to think about the bizarreness of it, and then you've thought of it. You don't need over two hours of super-dramatization to hammer it home. The concept just isn't that marvelous.

We keep hearing about death, about what it is like to watch our loved ones grow old and die (like we don't think about that all the time). The death element was too strong. Ok, we get it; growing younger, Benjamin is forced to be ever-mindful of death while not being able to relate to it because his stages of life don't match ours. Gotcha. Okiedokie. Then it gets…old (pardon the pun)!

I was not sold on the acting. Pitt's character, an undereducated and rather withdrawn Cajun man by the name of Benjamin Button only needed an accent. Cate Blanchette as “Daisy” had a touch more depth, but everyone's part had relatively little to them. I liked Julia Ormond as “Caroline” as well as anybody.

The filming locations were sublime, the lighting as well. The time-warp storytelling method is always a recipe for success for dramas (who can keep a dry eye during a deathbed confession?)

Pitt and Blanchette did not have the finest chemistry I’ve ever seen, and that matters as this is a love story. Still, this is going to be an irresistible film for a great many viewers. So much in the movie happens due to the fact that it's so loooooong! And so much was done right. Had some 30 or 40 minutes been cut out and some much-needed scene-trimming been done, you would have had a talked-about box office smash. But as it is, it's B- material. I was no worse off for seeing it. Just remember to bring the Kleenex box, or maybe two.

(JH)

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Director: David Fincher
Starring: Brad Pitt “Benjamin Button,” Cate Blanchett “Daisy,” Julia Ormond “Caroline,” Faune A. Chambers “Dorothy Baker,” Elias Koteas “Monsieur Gateau,” Donna DuPlantier “Blanche Devereux,” Jacob Tolano “Martin Gateau (as Jacob Wood),” Ed Metzger “Teddy Roosevelt,” Jason Flemyng “Thomas Button”
Genre: Romance

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