IMDB #207 The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

Today we reach an entry that I've already written about at some length: 2008's The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button.

It was a dilemma: do I search for more things to say than I had in February, or do I just go ahead and link you to my write-up during Oscar Coverage and my 2008 top ten list (it was #6) and do something a lot less serious than normal?

Aaand just guess which route I took.

So without further ado, today I eschew the regular format once again and present The Curious Case of Benjamin Button In A Nutshell.

This is my second parody attempt, done much in a style that I hope is somewhat distinguishable from Cleolinda Jones' Movies In Fifteen Minutes.

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button,
In A Nutshell:

Click for More...


Hurricane Katrina rages outside the window

CAROLINE: So mom, I know you're about to die, and I really just wanted to say-

OLD DAISY: (In between Darth Vader breaths) There was this guy who built a clock, one time..

CAROLINE: Uh, what?

OLD DAISY: His son died in WWI, so he made the clock run backwards.

CAROLINE: I don't really see how that relates to-

OLD DAISY: Even Roosevelt saw how totally thematically relevant it was.

BLACK NURSE #1: Excuse me white folks, do you mind if I make a call? My son might be underwater right now.

CAROLINE: Sure, go ahead- though why you'd need our permission I'm not sure.. So anyway mom, I was trying to have sort of an emotional moment with you, and-

OLD DAISY: Let's read an old diary from my bag instead.

CAROLINE: I, um.. what?

OLD DAISY: Just the sound of your voice comforts me. But not your feelings and crap.

CAROLINE: Er, all right... this thing is pretty heavily art-designed... Ahem: 'April 4, 1985. New Orleans. This is my last will and testament, though mostly a testament since I have no possessions or heirs...

We transtion to New Orleans on Armistice Day, 1918. The street is full of dramatically-lit revelers, pretty happy that we avenged Franz Ferdinand or whatever. Benjamin takes over the diary reading duties in Voice Over.

BENJAMIN (VO): My name is Benjamin, Benjamin Button, and I was born under unusual circumstances. A war ended, my mother died, my father nearly drowned me in a river: I've been told it was an especially good night to be born.

We see most of that stuff happen at The Button House, culminating with MR. BUTTON leaving the wrinkly little BENJAMIN on the steps at a Nursing Home.


QUEENIE: Oh, it sure is a nice night not to need a surname. What's on your mind, Mr. Weathers?

MR. WEATHERS: Well, you know about how we have our own personal lives, outside of these white folks? Your ex-boyfriend's come back from the war, and-

QUEENIE: Look! A wrinkled white baby!

MR. WEATHERS: Lord! We should probably leave that for the po-lice.

QUEENIE: Grotesquery is no match for a southern matron! I will name him Benjamin.

Benjamin, now a young apparent-octogenarian, begins growing up in the old-folks' home.

BENJAMIN (VO): It was a fun place to grow up, among the mentally infirm. Once I met a young girl named Daisy, and I never forgot her blue eyes.

BENJAMIN: Mama, I'm still kinda old and creepified. Am I going to die?

QUEENIE: You already lived longer than that doctor said you would before he fainted at the sight of you. You just remember what I told you.

BENJAMIN: 'You never know what's coming for you'?

QUEENIE: Not even if it's a box of chocolates.


PREACHER: Here in black church meetings we don't just DO NORMAL CHURCH THINGS, we are compelled to SHOUT THEM AND SORT OF SING THEM AS WELL!

CROWD: Hallelujah!


Benjamin indeed walks, in a totally not Gumpian way.

CROWD: Hallelujah!

BENJAMIN (VO): Then, his purpose served, the black preacher keeled over and died for comic effect.

CROWD: Halle...lujah?

NURSING HOME, Some time Later

DAISY: Psst, Benjamin! Wake up! Let's go downsairs to my fort!

BENJAMIN: Uh..okay!

DAISY: I've been asking old people to my fort all night, and you're the first taker! You're odd- odder than anyone I've ever met.

BENJAMIN: I'm not as old as I look. But you're a little kid with Cate Blanchett's dubbed-in voice, so we're even.

DAISY's GRANDMOTHER: AMBER ALERT! Back upstairs, the both of you!

THE DOCKS, Later still

LIGHTNING GUY: Did I ever tell you I was struck by lightning seven times? Once when I was just reading a Winston Groom novel.

CAPTAIN MIKE: Is anyone here so starved for life experience that they'll enjoy doing menial labor on a tugboat? There's really no screening process.

BENJAMIN: Ooh! Right here!

BENJAMIN (VO): He was the best crazy-mentor ever: he taught me to scrub poop off things, took me to a brothel, and ranted about his tattoos for a while. One time I ran into a guilt-ridden looking guy at the brothel.

MR. BUTTON: Your condition must be awful to endure.

BENJAMIN: It's not so bad being old, really. What line of work you in, Mr. Button?

MR. BUTTON: Buttons. Our slogan is: 'Button's Buttons: The Buttoniest Buttons that ever Buttoned in Button-town!' You mind if I drop in on you on occasion, even though we're allegedly strangers?

BENJAMIN: Just keep these drinks coming.

BENJAMIN (VO): In 1936, at the age of seventeen, when I still looked mid-sixites old, I left for Russia. I promised to send Daisy post-cards from everywhere I traveled, because whatever we had was less creepy via post.


OLD DAISY: Can you believe it? He really sent me cards from Newfoundland, Glasgow, Liverpool..

CAROLINE: Looking at the actual post-cards You mean...this is all true? Why didn't he go to the doctor? His genetics could have contained the secret to eternal youth!

OLD DAISY: Norway...



At a bar

CAPTAIN MIKE: I'm telling you, hummingbirds are amazing creatures! They're enduring cinematic images, for one thing, and their wings make the symbol for infinity!

BENJAMIN: What does that have to do with a backwards clock?


BENJAMIN (VO): Then, I had an affair with a classy British woman, mostly because she mistook my youthful sheepishness for aged wisdom (and I looked like an old Brad Pitt). I figured I'd write Daisy about it, no big deal.

DAISY (in New York): HWHAT?!

Back in the Russian bar

CAPTAIN MIKE: Listen up, you! Since I wasn't already enough like Lt. Dan, our tugboat's been conscripted to serve in World War II. All of my crew are free to quit, or each you and and your one notable personality trait better be ready to fight!

Somehow the tugboat pwns a submarine in a doubtlessly very expensive scene, but several are killed and Benjamin finds Captain Mike with approximately seven hundred bullet-wounds in his chest)

CAPTAIN MIKE: You can be as mad as a mad dog at the way things went. You could swear, curse unresolved plot-holes, but when it comes to the end, you have to let go.

BENJAMIN: Wait! How did you ever tattoo your own back, anyway?


Benjamin and one other survivor are rescued- Benajmin poignantly sees a hummingbird at sea, even though he's somewhere in Europe and hummingbirds are native to the Americas.

BENJAMIN (VO): Then, in 1945, I came home, looking kind of like Atticus Finch right after retirement.


QUEENIE: Sweet lord you're home! What'd you see while you were away? Sadness? Joy? Things that came for you even though you didn't see them in advance?

BENJAMIN: Pretty much.

LIGHTNING GUY: Did I ever tell you I was struck by lightning seven times? Once I was just sharing a birthday cake with John McCain.

DAISY (now a woman): Benajmin! Wow, you look way age-appropriate these days! It must be fate, us meeting again like this, even though I showed up at the old folks' home long after my grandmother's death. Or kismet. I'm a dancer now! I live in New York. You want to see me dance, just for you?

BENJAMIN: Well, I, uh-

DAISY: I have to go back tomorrow, it's a shame. If only there were something we could do for one night. Well?

BENJAMIN: I'd like to, but not tonight is all.

DAISY: Hmmp.

BENJAMIN: Plus, you're a smoker. Seriously- ashtray.

Daisy leaves- sometime later, MR. BUTTON shows up.

MR. BUTTON: Yep, the war's been pretty good for the button industry- lots of money. Sure is a pretty good time to be a Button...also I'm your dad.


MR. BUTTON: I just though you were a monster, is all! Also I'm about to die and again, millionaire.

BENJAMIN: Well, it was past time I got around to having a surname anyway.

LIGHTNING GUY: Did I ever tell you I was struck by lightning seven times? Once I was just golfing on top of the Sears tower during a storm. I think it's god's way of telling me I'm lucky to be alive.

BENJAMIN: I think it might be his way of trying to kill you.

NEW YORK, A Few Years Later

DAISY: Benajamin? What are you doing here? If I'd known you were coming, I would've tidied up this den of sin we call New York.

BENJAMIN: Well, I rejected you, so I thought I'd give you a shot at payback. It's only fair.

DAISY: No way! I happen to be dating some douchebag!

SOME DOUCHEBAG: So, you were a friend of her grandmother's?


OLD DAISY: Then I went all over Europe as a dancer.

CAROLINE: You never told me about any of that!

OLD DAISY: Well, you're kind of a square.


BENJAMIN (VO): Now, in a very extreme turn of fate I met Daisy again. A truly monumental set of coincidences contrived to lead to Daisy getting hit by a car, so I rushed to Paris to be by her side. Clearly this was the extreme circumstance that would finally bring us together forever, or I wouldn't spend so much time building up to this moment.

DAISY: Benjamin? Get out before I MELT YOUR FACE OFF WITH RAGE!

Audience: Wait, what?


BENJAMIN (VO): I went home, posed for some Tommy Hilfiger ads, slept around- the usual. Then, in the spring of 1962, she came back.

DAISY: I'm sorry- I couldn't let you see me that way, before.

BENJAMIN: Well, can I see you...naked?

DAISY: And how!

BENJAMIN (VO): It was everything the life of the beautiful and rich could be. We traveled the world, made love, got an apartment. Queenie died, but life was otherwise pretty great... then we ruined it by having a kid. Typical.


CAROLINE: Hold on for just a minute here.

OLD DAISY: Questions at the end, please!


BENJAMIN: How I can I be a father when I'm heading in the other direction? I'm gonna get shorter, lose mental faculty, need diapers...

DAISY: How many obvious jokes about that being the same as old age do I have to make before you change your mind?

BENJAMIN (VO): When you were one, Caroline, I pulled the old cigarette routine and left. I traveled the world, but I sent you post-cards, so we're cool, right? Button out!


CAROLINE: Worst. Twist. Ending. Ever!

Awkward pause.

CAROLINE: What ever happened to him, anyway?

OLD DAISY: Well, he showed back up once, you met him and we lied to you some more, then I cheated on your "father" with him.


OLD DAISY: Then a few years back, he showed up as a little kid with Alzheimer's, and eventually died in my arms as an infant.


OLD DAISY: That was the same year they took down that backwards-moving clock.

CAROLINE: Who cares about the stupid clock? I'm gonna go get a drink.

Daisy looks to the window in her last moments of life and sees a hummingbird, even though they weigh as much as a nickel and Hurricane Katrina had winds of up to 175 MPH.



The Verdict: Slightly Lower.

The more I watch this movie, the more I sour on it a little each time. Sophie pointed out that it's not that it's bad, it's that it could have been so great. I like it for the occasional humor, Lightning Guy especially, and as a massive technical acheivement, but Eric Roth's screenplay just kills me, more and more.

Coming Up...

Thursday, September 24th: Bringing Up Baby

Tuesday, September 29th: The Battle Of Algiers

3 Response to "IMDB #207 The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button"

  1. wcurry says:

    funny stuff. didn't get all the praise that was heaped on this film.

    looking forward to your battle of algiers review. saw it last year & it blew me away.

    is adventures of robin hood coming up? though you mentioned it in another post.

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