Movie Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

by February 02, 2009

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?