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Monday, February 2nd, 2009 at 5:34 pm  |  81 responses

Movie Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

It got Oscar nods, but will it get Omar’s nod?

by Omar Mazariego

I remember seeing the preview to this movie a year and change ago and thinking, “This movie will probably be corny, but I bet it’ll win all kinds of awards.” For the most part “award caliber” movies are boring to me. Capote (why would anyone wanna make a movie about this man?), The Queen (thought this was gonna be Capote 2), Crash (overrated), There Will Be Blood (along with sweat and tears when you realized you’ve wasted your money)—these are all considered masterpieces by old folk and lame people. (My homie Matt B gets a pass though.) And even though said flicks might be well written, acted and shot, that doesn’t mean they’re actually entertaining. The Dark Knight was better than the whole bloody lot of them. It should’ve definitely gotten a Best Picture nod at this year’s Oscars.

But anyway, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button seemed interesting to me. A dude who’s born old and ages younger every year of his life? It seemed like a pretty original concept with tons of possibility. So I went with the girl, L-Boogie the other day and saw what the critics—and Khalid—were raving about.

The story begins in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. A woman is lying on her deathbed in the hospital with her daughter by her side. After telling her daughter the story of a man who built a clock that counted time backwards (there was a pretty dope story behind that), she asks her to open her bag and read a journal that’s in it. She does. The journal belonged to a man named Benjamin Button, who was born under unusual circumstances. (Aren’t we all? My moms had that nut blocker machine in her body in the ’80s and yet, here I am).

Button was born looking like Joe Torre after a hot bath. Well, maybe a little younger looking. His mom-duke died during childbirth and asked her hubby to make sure the kid was looked after. But really, who could love a monster, right? Well, maybe Belle from Beauty & The Beast, and Beyonce I guess. But not Mr. Button. Dude took that clueless Joe lookin’ bastard and ran off into the night. He went to an old folks home and left baby Benji there on the steps with $12 stashed in the blanket. (That’s like the equivalent to $5 in today’s day & depression.) That’s where Queenie (Tarajii Henson, pregnant chick from Hustle & Flow) found him, took him in and raised him as her own. She couldn’t have babies so this was a gift from God to her. Her man Mr. Weathers was opposed to the idea at first, but when the getting is good you get with the program, na’mean?

She named him Benjamin and his life began around familiar faces—old folks. As a child he started life with the characteristics of an 80+ year old man. Could barely see. Needed bifocal glasses that Jay-Z will probably be rocking next (what’s with Jay and those ugly ass Urkel glasses?), had limp legs so he needed to stay in a wheelchair and was as bald as Marv Albert without a wig. But with every year he grew older, his body and physical appearance got younger. Then, at the age of 12, he met the granddaughter of one of the house’s tenants and began feeling her. Her name was Daisy and for some weird & perverse reason, she was feeling him too (Soon-Yi Previn of tomorrow??). That led to some real weird bonding and sneaking around. Every year at the old folks home, Benjamin met someone who in some way shape or form influenced his life. Someone who taught him how to play the piano, someone who taught him to be his own man, and someone who looked like 50 Cent’s little brother or Nate Robinson’s oldest brother. These people began preparing him for life in one way or another.

He later joined a tugboat crew and left Naw’lins in search of life. Out in the open sea he met more adventures than Slick Rick and gets younger and wiser with every passing bullet. From war to his first heartbreak, Benjamin learns what it means when people say: “To live is to suffer. And to survive, that’s to find meaning in that suffer.” Ok, DMX said that on that “Slippin’,” but its damn true.

Meanwhile he keeps his dear Daisy (sexy ass Cate Blanchett) updated on his daily events with post cards and letters from every corner of the world he touches. The aspiring dancer still pines for dude (I used the murda slept-on word right there…give it up!), and even though they’re both living separate lives worlds apart, their fates and futures are bound to each other. Will love meet them half way? Can you be with someone you know will get older as you get younger and vice versa? We know Woody Allen and Hugh Hefner can. These questions and more are answered in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

I can’t front and give Benjamin Button anything less than 4.5 Gangstas.

I guess because in a lot of ways I can relate to Benjamin Button, I really felt that this movie was indeed timeless. Like Mr. Button, I have a thing for older & younger women, and, true to film, with every year that passes the more immature I get. The romance aspect of the movie was nice, but its probably a pedophile’s dream come true to some extent. Like the scene in Stand By Me when the kids take off their clothes and rip leeches off each other. The cinematography was straight butter, simply mesmerizing. I haven’t been enticed by scenes and backgrounds like that since Forrest Gump back in the ’90s. Just genius sh*t. The screenplay was bananas like The Clipse, and acting wise, it was just superb. The makeup was nothing short of amazing and sometimes even creepy. My only beef was when Daisy first threw it at Benjamin when they met again years after the last saw each other. She was in her 20’s and he was in his 20’s too, but looked like he was in his 50’s or 60’s. I told L-Boogie straight up, “I would’ve blew her back out. Straight tore it up and locked it down.” But nah, dude wanted to play the gentleman role. Crazy, son?! I would’ve gave her that wrinkly ding-a-ling.  She wanted it and bad! Far be it from me to deny a beautiful woman her heart’s desire. Also I don’t think the whole Katrina thing was necessary, but understand I gave the movie an added dimension too.

But regardless to whom or what, this movie was just a banger. The three hours flew by like Afroman’s fame and glory. It wasn’t better than The Dark Knight, but then again, what is?

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  • reptdot

    Slumdog Millionaire was a better movie and will get the best picture, deservingly so.

  • http://www.ballislife.com Justin Walsh

    I enjoyed this movie but it’s not better than MILK, not better than FUNNY GAMES, not better than REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, The Dark Knight, or even Doubt. This was written by the forrest gump people, and it’s basically the same damn movie outside of the weird aging.

  • http://Slamonline.com O

    Someone actually saw Revolutionary Road????

  • http://www.ballislife.com Justin Walsh

    Yeah, It was fresh. Best argument for why living the american dream just for the sake of it is not the best idea. work for the reason that society has told you it is rewarding is never a good thing. That movie is the epitomy of doing the right things for the wrong reasons then promptly blowing up at the world in front of everyone you care about.

  • http://www.le-mode.com LE-MODE

    best movie review i’ve ever read. hand’s down. lol this was a great read.

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Myles Brown

    Brad Pitt may not be the best actor, but he chooses his roles very well and has shown real growth in his career. I really enjoyed this movie. Much more than Revolutionary Road, which should have come with a complimentary noose or razor blades.

  • http://www.ballislife.com Justin Walsh

    hahah fair enough Myles. And yes, Brad Pitt does choose roles very well (Fight Club, Seven, Burn After Reading, CCOBB, the upcoming Inglorious B*stards by Quentin Tarantino, among others)…But I really enjoyed Sam Mendes’ RR better. I dont know why. Personally I hope that MILK wins best picture this year. Did you get a chance to see it?

  • http://Slamonline.com O

    Real talk, only Tom Cruise and Revolutionary Road star, Leo, would’ve been able to pull this role off. Not because he’s THAT good an actor, but who else can they transform from a 80 year old to a 17 year old again and make it seem real?? Brad really looked like a teenager again. That was crazy. Clint Eastwood wouldn’t have been able to pull it off.

  • Cake

    stop hatin on jay. His glasses are fresh!

  • http://ittakesanationofmillionstoholdthissac.blogspot.com ciolkstar

    The name of this movie still makes me think it should be about talking cartoon mice or something…

  • http://www.ballislife.com Justin Walsh

    or greg oden?

  • http://Slamonline.com O

    His glasses are fresh??? Who the hell is Cake?? Is that Beyonce???

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    I can see the special effects and makeup getting 4.5 Gangstas, but the movie as a whole? Not so sure. Slumdog is the perfect rental movie, Frost/Nixon was compelling, but not well-developed. Milk was the most complete movie of them all, but don’t check it out if you didn’t like Brokeback. If I gave the award, it undoubtedly would go to Dark Knight, as I’m sure all of you would. The Reader doesn’t even deserve mention (although that’s the only one of the five nominees that I haven’t seen).

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Myles Brown

    Milk was cool, but I thought it was kinda overrated due to its politics. Penn did a great job, but O is right. Batman was robbed.

  • http://www.ballislife.com Justin Walsh

    Ryne, the reader was a great part by Kate Winslet, and a good story, but the movie was just paced oddly, it went on too long…Alas, it is 2nd weakest in this year’s best pic noms (Frost/Nixon is one of THE most overrated movies I’ve ever watched. It’s not even the best NIXON portrayal, Frank Langella has NOTHING on the Anthony Hopkins’ Richard Millhouse Nixon from the Oliver Stone (JFK, Natural Born Killers, Alexander, Platoon) directed NIXON.

  • http://ittakesanationofmillionstoholdthissac.blogspot.com ciolkstar

    Sorta off topic, but I ‘ve been watching the first season of ‘Mad Men’ and its pretty goddam good.

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Myles Brown

    Slumdog was the sh*t. If it doesnt win Best Picture, it should at least get a Gangsta review.

  • http://www.ballislife.com Justin Walsh

    Myles, BATMAN WAS ROBBED, thank you for agreeing. The academy is just on some schoolyard bullsh*t being afraid to nominate a comic book movie. They probably think it lessens the legitimacy of the awards. I’m really annoyed by that. Another reason i think MILK will win is because of Hollywood’s guilt over screwing Brokeback (no pun intended) out of the best picture award by picking Crash instead (that movie has aged horribly, first watch I loved it, second was okay, then I hated it)- that coupled with Hollywood being upset by Prop 8 passing will probably mean MILK winning best pic wins

  • http://www.ballislife.com Justin Walsh

    ciolkstar, mad men is so legit.

    best shows I’ve ever watched:
    1. The Wire
    2. Coupling (UK)
    3. WEEDS
    4. Mad Men
    5. HOUSE M.D.

  • http://Slamonline.com O

    I heard Slumdog was the jumpoff, but ain’t seen it yet. My cousin saw Frost/Nixon and gave me a play by play of the movie. His exact words were: “Lalalalalalala -’ Why did you do that sh*t?’ Lalalalalala – ‘Because I f*ckin can. Now shut the f*ck up!’ The end.” Sounded promising.

  • Khalid Salaam

    Ryne, so what you’re saying is that you liked Brokeback? Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

  • Khalid Salaam

    Benjamin Button is a really good movie. I thought Cate Blanchett was superb and its deserving of its best pic nomination. But its not better than the Dark Knight. The fact that it wasn’t even considered for best pic is not only laughable but questions the legitimacy of the entire motion picture industry.

  • http://Slamonline.com O

    “The fact that it wasn’t even considered for best pic is not only laughable but questions the legitimacy of the entire motion picture industry.” Co-signing like a MF.

  • http://slamonline.com Tzvi T

    Yeh, everyone–especially O and Khalid–is right; the industry is messed up like the MVP industry in basketball and baseball.

  • http://www.myspace.com/hemantsbeats what

    This movie was OK, but a thousand times better than that racist garbage Slumdog Millionaire (yes I am Indian).

  • O

    I aint see Slumdog yet, but how was it racist? Please be specific.

  • http://slamonline.com Tzvi T

    If your Indian, then the term “Dog” is racist, I believe

  • http://slamonline.com Tzvi T

    Meaning just cuz they’re poor doesnt mean they’re dogs.

  • karma

    first of all, I’m indian too. How the hell is slumdog even the bit racist? Have you ever been to the slums of india? That’s exactly how it looks. Don’t let the bollywood movies fool you, bro. Slumdog was amazing, but I’m not gonna watch it for a while cuz the length was damn long.

  • http://www.myspace.com/hemantsbeats what

    I’m not offended by the word “dog” (although you’re right a lot of people in India are). My problem with the movie was that it felt like a foreigner went to India, wrote down every stereotype he could find, and made it into a movie. I don’t want to get too specific and spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it, but the movie wants us to believe that just because these kids grew up in the slums, they spent their entire lives being given the shaft by everyone, and the only people who were ever nice to them were a couple of white tourists they ran into at the Taj Mahal. Obviously slum life sucks anywhere, India included, but that movie was very one-sided. Visually it’s really nice, but the plot is unrealistic and inaccurate. The thing is if you haven’t actually been to India you probably won’t be able to pick out the specific scenes that are most ridiculous… if you want I can list them out for you, but like I said I don’t want to spoil the movie for you either if you haven’t seen it.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    I can’t believe nobody commented on O’s use of “wrinkly ding-a-ling.” A SLAMonline first, I believe…

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    “The journal belonged to a man named Benjamin Button, who was born under unusual circumstances. (Aren’t we all? My moms had that nut blocker machine in her body in the ’80s and yet, here I am).”
    The fact that no one else has yet seen fit to comment on this line reminds me of two things: 1) My reign as Slamonline’s best commenter remains undisputed, and 2) Omar is my daddy.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    It was a good line, is my point.

  • JamesPH

    Why so serious?

  • http://Slamonline.com O

    Word is bon jovi. Lang, Ryan, I was thinking the same thing. Apparently things like that coming from me just isn’t shocking anymore. It’s expected. LMAO @ Ryan’s comment. Youse a fool, man.

  • karma

    ***SPOILERS IN MY POST, DONT READ IF YOU HAVENT WATCHED IT!***
    The only problem I had with Slumdog was the random English thrown in there. I realize that the English was used for the Western audience and what not, but realistically, two kids who grew up in the slums would not just randomly start speaking English before they become (fake) tour guides. Same goes with the girl, and the mob boss and what not. They were all speaking hindi, and then randomly all start speaking English. I hated that. If they had remained consistent with the language, it would have made more sense. I thought the movie was visually brilliant as well. And yes, I’m interested in hearing what scenes you thought were unrealistic. The Muslims and Hindus scene is the only one that seems a bit farfetched to me…it happens, but not without a cause. I also thought the “THIS IS HOW WE ARE IN AMERICA!” (followed by giving a $100 bill) was unintentionally hilarious, as if Americans are always that generous after getting thier Mercedes robbed from tire to steering wheel. That was pretty gangster though, that robberry.

  • that dude

    “But really, who could love a monster, right? Well, maybe Belle from Beauty & The Beast, and Beyonce I guess.”

    Nice.

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    Wrinkly ding-a-ling. Hey O? Got a copyright on that? If not, i am SO using that for my next streetball tournament teamname.

  • wilz

    the dark knight was pretty lame if you wanna talk about lame

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    Lang? Patience, my friend, patience. Just got to reading Omar’s review. See comment above.

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    In the eternal words of a 7 year old too shook to muster a fitting comeback: wilz, YOU’RE LAME!!

  • karma

    Also, to add, I wasnt that impressed with the Dark Knight. I thought the hype was slightly exaggerated. The only performance that I truly loved from that movie was LEdger’s. His hype was justified; the movie’s, not so much. Seriously, the entire movie, I spent watching waiting for the next scene where I could see the Joker. That’s how you know the actor played his part amazingly. It’s like the time I watched “Juice”; I was just waiting for the times Pac would come on screen cause he stole the show every time.

  • k.a.

    dude totally missed the point of the American couple being nice. that was basically a jab at white guilt. sucker.

  • SeanB

    good review , i thought the movie was a little more bland then Omar but its all good. the only thing i can argue with: “sexy ass cate blanchett”? sorry but i just wasnt feeling it

  • Jean

    Benjamin Button was SOOOOOO boring, was ok but WAY TO LONG. One word of advice DO NOT SEE THE READER…wow what an utter piece of trash! Has to be one of the worst movies ever nominated for best picture

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    I can’t help but notice the beginning of the movie is way different than it is in the story. I’m sure I’ll watch it at some point, but I’m not about to go to the movies and sit through another 3 hour show. Good review though O I’ll take your word for it. Let me urge all of you to just read the story it only takes about 45 minutes.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    I love O!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Co-sign Lang and Jones.

  • riggs

    Ill sit wit ya Co x2! also the best part of slumdog millionaire is freida pinto, damn she is pretty.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    I can’t do it Riggs. I have the attention span of a hummingbird. Dark Knight almost killed me. Seriously, I was afraid it would never end.

  • Gumdrop

    I watched CCOBB about seven seats down from Stephen Harper (Canada`s Prime Minister) who I guess just wanted to go watch a movie like a regular person. And after the movie I realized that about 5 secret service were ready to break bones if I did anything foolish.

  • Gumdrop

    Hopefully somebody will find that borderline interesting….where`s Holly at? Mutoni?

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    They called secret service in canada too?

  • http://Slamonline.com O

    The Dark Knight lame? Overrated?? Have I woken up in the Twilight Zone????

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    yep, bizarro world, O. Welcome.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    The Dark Knight was long. That’s all I know. and if it weren’t for the Joker, eh.

  • O

    Co Co! Are you serious? The storyline and the battle within himself was bananas. Dark Knight was the greatest comic book movie EVER!

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    Look, I’m just sayin I went in at 8:30 and didn’t get out the theatre til like 11. I don’t have time to be sitting thru three hours of a movie with no damn intermission. And, they could have shortened it. Some of those action scenes could have been shortened. Plus, Batman’s voice was just ugh! I mean I guess compared to other comic book movies it was….. actually I’m in no position to rate comic book movies.

  • O

    I liked the voice, its the mouth movement that urked me. I saw TOO much bottom teeth whenever he used the Batman voice. And those were some of the best 3 hours of my life… excluding anytime I participated in creating the “beast with two backs.”

  • Gumdrop

    Darksaber: No, you’re right it’s the RCMP. Still, big dudes with ear-pieces and guns.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    A bathroom break would have been nice. I mean if you’re going to make a movie be three hours the least you can do is have an intermission. His voice was awful O. Just dreadful. Had I not been on a date I would have walked out of the theatre way before the movie was over. just because. You should read the short story of Ben Button just cuz.

  • O

    Damn, Co Co. I like the voice. I don’t care. Its Macy Gray’s voice I cannot stand. And man, you’re preaching to the choir about not walking out on a date. Kha knows the infamous “Passion Of The Christ” date I went on back in the day. The movie aint make me wanna walk out, it was the bird I took. I still have nightmares about that chick.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    LOL That’s unfortunate O! My major gripe with my date was that he made me sit through that long a** movie! The movie really did have good parts, but damn they could have made it a little shorter and by little I mean about 30 or 45 minutes. And, O the voice made the movie seem ridiculous.

  • O

    Nah man, Batman has to change his voice. Everyone knows Bruce Wayne. He can’t go out there talking all regular. No one knew Adam West was Batman back in the day cause people were much simpler in those times. I mean Fonz was a bada$$. Today Fonz would be cool but on a Lupe Fiasco level. And honestly, I don’t think there was ONE minute of wasted time in that movie. Everything from dialogue to action held weight in some aspect.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    Sigh, okay O we’ll agree to disagree. I can’t go see Ben Button in the theatre though. For now the short story will do.

  • O

    I’ll look into the story. Is it online or a book?

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    you can read it online just search it. I’d link it but it would put this comment in moderation for the remainder of the week.

  • O

    Bet. Good lookin, Co Co.

  • http://www.myspace.com/hemantsbeats what

    @karma… 1. Indian cops are pretty bad but they don’t electrocute you if you are suspected of cheating on a game show. 2. Hindu-Muslim violence can be pretty bad but they definitely don’t bring along 8 year old kids painted in blue to show the Muslims what Hindu gods look like. 3. Just because some psycho makes a kid sing a song doesn’t mean that kid magically knows who composed that song 15 years later when he’s asked a question on a game show. 4. The perfect British-accented English spoken by uneducated slum-dwelling kids, like you mentioned. 5. Even Usain Bolt’s kids can’t outrun grown men to catch a train. I could go on and on but I don’t know if this is the place to be typing essays about overrated movies. Basically if they hadn’t done a half-assed job this movie could have been the Indian version of City of God. Instead it looked more like a poorly-done parody of Bollywood. Speaking of which, it’s funny you said “this ain’t Bollywood”, because as bad as Bollywood sucks it’s actually done a much better job depicting the dark side of India before.

  • http://www.myspace.com/hemantsbeats what

    I agree with O, it’s a crime that The Dark Knight isn’t nominated for best picture.

  • http://crazedteacups.typepad.com Valarie

    I loved The Dark Knight. I hated Capote, the movie. But are none of the journalists here going to call this guy out for wondering why someone would want to make a movie out of Capote’s life?

  • http://Slamonline.com O

    I mean it’s obvious why they would make a movie out that dude life. He was that dude. But come on! Now we got Frost/Nixon running around. Maybe in 20-30 years they’ll make an Omar/Snoop (The Wire) movie.

  • Valarie

    Thanks, O – I can accept that answer.

    And I’ll take your word for it on Frost/Nixon. Nobody can bleed a movie dry of originality or give a simple subject an inappropriately grand scope like Ron Howard.

  • ka

    man, i got beef with whats posting. dude, if slumdog was judged based on the criteria of what is realistic, then we are to believe all US cops are capable of superheroic vigilantism, all blacks carry gun, all US kids are oversexed, etc. slumdog is not great because its realistic. realistic does not a great mocie make (necessarily). its great because it takes the essence of bollywood convention and motifs, puts a little twist to it and presents the subject in transcending way. indians can watch the movie and and see something intrinsic to their culture while at the same time foreigners can watch it without feeling alienated and actually ‘get it’. ive got no beef if you dislike the movie, i just think its for all the wrong reason to the point of missing the point.

  • DO

    Beast with 2 backs? … for 3 hours?

    damn

  • http://www.toronto.com Mr. 416

    Freida Pinto needs a Gangsta Review…….

  • http://www.luxorhotellasvegas.net luxorhotellasvegas

    what a movie, I really enjoyed

  • http://www.riohotelandcasino.net riohotelandcasino

    marvelous, I enjoyed it too

  • Chris

    Whats up with all the rap refernces?

  • http://www.pccasinogames.net pccasinogames

    WOW… awsome, not just love… it’s not what you think

  • http://Slamonline.com O

    Rap references??? I’m from Brooklyn, what’d you expect? Btw, LOVED Slumdog Millionaire. What’s gonna be mad, but I thought it was brilliant.

  • http://www.tibetangoji.ca Tibetan

    heard Slumdog was the jumpoff, but ain’t seen it yet. My cousin saw Frost/Nixon and gave me a play by play of the movie. His exact words were: “Lalalalalalala -’ Why did you do that sh*t?’ Lalalalalala – ‘Because I f*ckin can. Now shut the f*ck up!’ The end.” Sounded promising.

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