The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

December 30, 2008
“The Curious Case”—of Brad Pitt's Makeup…

Ever seen something on TV and wondered “where have I seen this before?” That was what was bugging me as I endured the three hour epic movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, released on Christmas Day 2008 to a whopping 3,000 screens. The film is based off of F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story of the same name, yet I'm sure many directorial liberties were taken. Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) is born in New Orleans, Louisiana at the end of the First World War with one major flaw: he's born a wrinkly, old baby and seems to age backwards! This is the “curiosity” of the movie, yet I didn't find it curious at all.

We follow Pitt's character from his early days (as a rusty man in a wheelchair) to his elderly ages where he has the appearance of a teenager with a mind that is mentally mature. For those who attend the movie only to gaze at a hunky Brad Pitt, beware—the aging makeup on him is so outstanding that he is barely recognizable at the beginning. Perhaps I have the patience of a two year old handed a chocolate bar, but this makeup amused me more than the plot of the film! His makeup will certainly be up for an Oscar, mark my words.

Will the movie be up for any other Academy Awards? Perhaps Best Picture? I can't say for certain. The movie simply didn't hit me as anything spectacular, for it seems to follow a linear plot that uses recycled clichés from past winning movies. The Southern premise parallels the Best Picture “Forrest Gump” far too closely for me. Cinematically, scenes of Benjamin's huge, white childhood home and his preferred career on a fishing boat seem to be cut right from the film reel of “Gump” and tackled into “Curious Case”. Another cliché that I couldn't get past was the narration style. The narrator of the story, Daisy (Cate Blanchett), is an elderly dying woman in a hospital bed who tells her daughter about her multiple rendez-vous with Benjamin. In her possession, of course, is Benjamin's diary—how convenient! All the scenes with the elder Daisy and her daughter are so predictable that I physically groaned. Oh, the secrets Daisy kept from her daughter, the crying, all of this sheer emotion in the midst of a hospital room—haven't I seen this before in a Hallmark movie? The entire movie seems to teeter between outright plagiarism and your everyday plot clichés. Without the aging fluke of Benjamin, we have ourselves a cross between Forrest Gump and every single made-for-TV cable movie.

Granted, the film does have its shining moments, other than the makeup. The acting is phenomenal, and I can honestly say every actor created a realistic character that I could picture meeting in 20th century Louisiana. I admit, I had my doubts about Brad Pitt, whom I have only seen in teen movies as the lovable jock, but he pulled off it character brilliantly. He was Benjamin Button, and I think this will become one of his more memorable roles. Cate Blanchett also birthed a wonderful character in her transformation from a twenty year old ballet student to an eighty year old dying woman.

Despite its shining moments, “Curious Case” was a film that tries too hard for the Oscar that it terribly wants, yet I don't believe it deserves it. Visually and plot wise, it looks like something we've all seen before.

Ending Review: C-

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no name said...
Jan. 6, 2009 at 11:47 am
"Off of" is not correct grammar. The movie is based ON the story.

Also, something isn't cliche if it's taken from one other movie.

"he pulled off it character brilliantly" .....
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