Friday, December 26, 2008

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

There are actually movie fans young enough to not know what Forrest Gump is. Thankfully for them, that 1994 chessnut starring Tom Hanks has been remade.

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, adapted from a 1920s F. Scott Fitzgerald story about a man who is born in his 80s and ages backwards (Brad Pitt), is directed by David Fincher, whose roster of films is impressive. Se7en, Fight Club and Zodiac are among them. That’s why is perplexing why he’d tackle a film that evokes Gump so literally. It came as no surprise to me then that Button was written by Eric Roth, the same screenwriter as Gump. Now, Roth has written some of my favorite movies, including The Horse Whisperer and The Insider. It baffles me why Roth would return to Gump territory and more so why Fincher would then make it his follow up to Zodiac.

Button is so much like earlier Robert Zemeckis epic that I could scene-by-scene identify the corresponding Gump version as I watched. It’s also very long (just shy of three hours) and despite employing similar Gump themes (family, love and responsibility) it was unusually bereft of emotionality. There was very little obvious pulling of the heart strings to the point I really didn’t feel any connection to the characters at all.

That said, Fincher has delivered a beautiful looking movie. The effects work used to raise and lower the age of Benjamin Button is astounding. The rest of the cast are all pros and do an admirable job. Cate Blanchett and Taraji P. Henson (Hustle & Flow) as Button’s adoptive mother are especially fun to watch on screen.

Will you enjoy The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button? That depends on how much you enjoyed Forrest Gump, I suppose. Button is this decade’s less emotionally affecting Gump.

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