Friday, January 30, 2009

The Unoriginal world of Benjamin Button

Forrest GumpImage via Wikipedia

O.K., stop me if you've heard this tale before...

A young boy who is looked at as being "different" is raised in the South by a single (or nearly so) mother, who gives her son a mantra to live by.

The boy grows to a man and falls in love with a hometown girl, but society and fate intervene and keep them apart for many years.

The man wanders through 20th century American history occasionally having an affect on it. He goes to war, acts heroic, survives and returns home.

Through no real effort of his own, he accumulates great wealth and distributes it generously.

He hooks up with a foul mouthed father figure who teaches him life lessons (even sets him up with hookers!)

After years apart, he and his long lost love finally unite (figuratively and literally) and produce a child - who doesn't know who his/her real father is until later in life.

Oh, and a hurricane plays a significant role in the film.

I could go on (and on), but I think you get the point. Forrest Gump was a groundbreaking film, both visually and thematically, and deserved all the acclaim it received.

Now we have The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The credits indicate it is based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, but it derives (copies) more from Gump than anything else. The fact that Button is nominated for Best Picture is atrocious. Such blatantly unoriginal material doesn't deserve accolades.

If I look at the film independent of the NUMEROUS connections to Gump, I can say that it's somewhat entertaining. I came in expecting some connections, but less that half way through the film, it became a serious distraction for me.

The visual effects were good, but again, that reminded me of...well, you know. There were some beautiful shots of sunsets and snowfall. Cate Blanchette was excellent, but she'd be good reading the ingredients off a Rice Krispies box. Brad Pitt wanders through the film with the same kind of emotional reserve that Tom Hanks did in...arrrgh, there it is again.

Seriously, if you have any respect for the original, you will be gravely disappointed/irritated by this duplicate. I sense a drinking game once this comes out on DVD/Blu-Ray -- "Find the similarities to Forrest Gump".

There the mantra from the Mother -- Drink!
Here he is injected into history -- Drink!
Here's his date with the hooker-- Drink!

If you like to watch Brad Pitt or Cate Blanchette, you'll be happy with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but if you're looking for originality in a film, this one's no box of chocolates because if you've seen Forrest Gump, you already know what you're going to get.
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