Wasted Time

26 Dec

I thought about beginning this review at the end, with my grade, and working backwards from there … but that would imply that I liked The Curious Case of Benjamin Button more than I actually did and that it deserved such effort on my part. Instead, this film, based on a quirky and very short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald (one that I have actually read), is definitely one of the bigger disappointments of the year for me. And I really wanted to like it. Oh well.

It’s worth noting right at the start that the story and the movie have only one commonality: They both tell the tale of a man who is born old and grows younger. Other than that, they’re very different. The original story is funny and odd and, well, it’s short. The movie is very long (2:45), it takes itself way too seriously, and it’s almost too straight-forward. The movie is so conventional that it even employs one of the worst movie clichés out there: it’s told looking back as one of the characters lies on her death bed (during Hurricane Katrina). The whole thing is nearly devoid of humor — save for a random gag about a guy who was hit by lightning seven times — and feels like an “Oscar movie.” While I don’t fault the film’s creators (including writer Eric Roth and director David Fincher) for embellishing the source material and making Benjamin Button a grander and more romantic story (Cate Blanchett’s character is a totally new addition, for example, as is the fact that Benjamin is raised in a retirement home and not by his own father), they’ve overdone it, making the film feel totally bloated.

The effect of having Brad Pitt’s head on other people’s bodies in the early scenes works well, but when it’s all Pitt, he’s less exciting. It feels as if the role is entirely physical (as opposed to emotional) and that we’re supposed to take his handsomeness as “acting.” In addition, much of the dialogue is spoken in that slowed-down style that makes it overly dramatic, and, well, I could probably go on as long as the movie did with things that frustrated me. If I could live my life in reverse, I’d probably choose to see a different movie before I went to see this one. I’m giving Benjamin Button a very unfortunate C–.

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