Home / Movie Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Has No Merit At All

Movie Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Has No Merit At All

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From my personal notes:

Director David Fincher re-teams with Brad Pitt, who re-teams with Julia Ormond and Cate Blanchett, in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Brad Pitt should have won an Oscar a long time ago for his role in Legends of the Fall, when he was still a young actor full of raw emotion. This attempt at redeeming that lost award is obviously framed at capitalizing on Pitt's current super, uber-celebrity status.

To see a movie where Angelina Jolie's hunky, chunky husband is portraying an old man who ages into youth is exactly the kind of clichéd fluff that will capture the hearts of the multitude of viewers that flocked to see Titanic, and will try to capture the minds of those who awarded Forrest Gump

The premise of the movie is nowhere near the story of the original 1922 novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It's merely an excuse to create a movie that tries to combine elements of fantasy, a sense of the epic, drama, humor, and love. The result is one big mess of splattered bird droppings, salvaged by excellent make-up and special effects.

Cate Blanchett lays her acting credibility to waste here in a role that would have been more suitable for Lindsay Lohan or Emma Thompson. Brad Pitt tries to channel Val Kilmer, James Dean, finally, himself, but fails miserably. Memo to Mr. Pitt: you will be better off sticking to pretty boy roles (Ocean's Eleven, Thelma and Louise) if you want to win an award. Your asset is your charm and movie star charisma, not this 180-degree turnaround against type. If you do happen to win, I'll quit watching your movies forever.

Why is Hurricane Katrina involved, and what's with the insulting and highly irritating New Orleans-Creole accented narration that you hear throughout the movie? Beats me. Again, a wild guess: Titanic and Forrest Gump.

I'm slowly losing my mental acuity and developing a curious case of narcolepsy in the middle of this long, long movie. I'm half-considering leaving the theater to buy the Back to the Future trilogy DVD to get my senses back to life. But I'm still waiting to see Blonde Brad as he ages into his present state, the way I see him on the front pages of every tabloid publication nowadays.

I'm curiously reminded, out of the blue, of a technique used in recording music called backmasking. I wonder what we will see if this movie is played backwards. Does it become a watchable movie at all?

The wretched gift this film gives is its interesting title, which will surely remind me of this unpleasant experience till the end of my days.

For the Academy's consideration: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Case dismissed, no contest.

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About Clarence Yu

  • asdf

    That “insulting and highly irritating New Orleans-Creole accented narration that you hear throughout the movie” would be the voice of Benjamin Button. The whole movie was built on his granddaughter reading from his diary… I mean, it was utterly impossible to miss. You were evidently so invested in hating this movie that you neglected to watch it.

  • LOL Patrick. So your mother-in-law conducted her slide show in the theater? Must be interesting.


  • Patrick

    Check that. I faked a dizzy spell during one of my mother-in-law’s family slide shows and went upstairs to lie down.


  • Patrick

    I saw this flick last night. Your review is bang on. I’m 42 years old and I’ve never walked out on a movie in my life. I would’ve walked out on Benjamin Button if I saw it on an Airplane. Very disappointing.


    Ottawa, Canada.

  • I also think that LOF deserves a second look. There is some fine acting by Hopkins, Henry Thomas, Aidan Quinn and, really in my opinion, Brad Pitt—who also did his best work, again in my opinion, in Spygame.

  • El Bicho,

    You might be right there. But then I do not have any particular “type” or “taste.” I guess some movies just really stick out to me because of some piece of acting, or because it strikes me emotionally, or it makes me laugh. So, I guess my taste is questionable to you, but it is subjective just as well. My wife seems to like my tastes in movies and music, some she has to acquire as well. I understand where you are coming from.


  • val

    You’re right on. Brad Pitt is like a rolling stone gathering nothing on the way but bad luck with Angelina Jolie. Their notority is hers alone and not good while his looks fade and they play a role offstage with dark glasses sadly not good on film. Brad’s looking lousy with a career that’s losing steam, just not good. Your story was valid and said it all and you’re right on with your critique of the film and the now truly boring and not sensational Brad Pitt and his wanna be bride who are now only boring.

  • No adult size baby

    Funny review. I actually liked the movie until the end when there was no adult size baby. Didn’t make sense how he aged to a baby size baby when he was born a baby size old man.

  • It’s not your qualification that are questionable, but your tastes. LoF was a glorified soap opera, not a bastion of fine acting.

  • Hi Handyguy,

    The audience was also mesmerized and burst into applause, as I recall, when I watched Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. I too shed a tear at the end of this truly enchanting movie. I guess my taste really has to be questioned and smelled.

    Sorry. I respect David Fincher very much for his work. But I really did not like this film; he probably did his best to make it work and I respect him for that. I happen to like Edward Zwick’s work. Some of his movies, like The Siege, went on unrecognized (I think largely due to 9/11).

  • El Bicho—so I’m not as qualified as you to review movies. I apologize. I must acknowledge your authoritative views. Note to myself: Keep reading EB’s reviews, grasshopper!

  • David Fincher is the most talented director now working. Twice in a row now [Zodiac was his previous film], he has made the best movie of the year.

    Anyone who thought the quite wretched Legends of the Fall [directed by schlockmeister Edward Zwick] Oscar-worthy deserves to have his taste questioned, certainly.

    There’s no need for us all to agree on the merits of individual movies. But the afternoon I saw Benjamin Button, the audience sat in rapt silence for 3 hours and applauded at the end. It is mesmerizing, and it has many people in tears through its last 20 minutes or so.

    It will win the Oscar. Unlike Zodiac [a deliberate challenge to its audience], it’s a crowd pleaser as well as a stunning piece of film craft. [The script has its ups and downs, but Fincher manages to make that mostly irrelevant.]

  • Hi Jordan,

    In context, “the resulting splattering of droppings” were salvaged by excellent make-up and special effects. But overall, as the positives were really outweighed by the negatives, the final decision was, no merit at all.

    If you are familiar with Emma Thompson’s work you might see what I mean. Ms. Blanchett, as I saw it, just was not suited to the role. So it would have been better in my opinion, since the film was not worth watching anyway, to cast Lindsay Lohan; or, to try to salvage the role, cast Emma Thompson, a more capable actress in my opinion.

    I just really, really did not see this movie in the way I thought it would have been. The first few minutes really got on my nerves and I thought there would be something to reverse this but it just got worse as the movie progressed. Just my own opinion is all.


  • “From my personal notes”

    What are your other reviews based on? Your questions may have been answered if you weren’t busy trying to write clever notes in the dark.

    An Oscar for “Legends of the Fall”? Sorry, but that calls into question your opinion of this film, even before you called it “bird droppings.”

  • Jordan Richardson

    If the movie has “excellent make-up and special effects,” is it possible to proclaim, as your article title does, that it has “no merit at all?”

    And this comparison is an odd one:

    Cate Blanchett lays her acting credibility to waste here in a role that would have been more suitable for Lindsay Lohan or Emma Thompson.

    Now, I’ve not seen this film and am in no rush to, but…what?