Prayer Focus
Click here to watch THE HOPE on-line!
Oscar®Oscar® Winner for Best Art Direction, Visual Effects, and Best Makeup / Nominee for Best Picture, Actor in a leading role, Directing, Writing (Adapted Screenplay), Actress in a supporting role, Cinematography, Film Editing, Costume Design, Music (original score), and Sound
Movie Review

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button a.k.a. “Benjamin Button,” “Der Seltsame Fall des Benjamin Button,” “L’ Étrange histoire de Benjamin Button,” “O Estranho Caso de Benjamin Button,” “I Apistefti istoria tou Benjamin Button,” “Il Curioso caso di Benjamin Button”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief war violence, sexual content, language and smoking.

Reviewed by: Misty Wagner
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
Add to your list?
View your list
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Romance, Fantasy, Mystery, Drama
Length:
2 hr. 45 min.
Year of Release:
2008
USA Release:
December 25, 2008 (wide—2,900 theaters) DVD: May 5, 2009
Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Sexual sin

Fornication

What does the Bible say about adultery? Answer

Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

How can I deal with temptations? Answer

What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer

Marriage

Marriage in the Bible

Is formalized marriage becoming obsolete? Answer
Many people are convinced that traditional marriages don’t work and that this practice should be abandoned. What does the Bible say about marriage?

True love

Couple in love. Photo copyrighted
TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Sex, Love and Relationships shadow
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Christian answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more. Valuable resources for Christian couples, singles and pastors.

Death

Featuring: Brad Pitt (Benjamin Button)

Cate Blanchett (Daisy)

Elle Fanning (Daisy—Age 6)

Taraji P. Henson (Queenie), Tilda Swinton (Elizabeth Abbott), Elias Koteas, more »
Director: David Fincher
Panic Room
Producer: The Kennedy/Marshall Company, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Ceán Chaffin, Jim Davidson, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

This movie was adapted from a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (1921). Read on-line.

“I was born under unusual circumstances. Life isn’t measured in minutes, but in moments.”

What if you were able to learn exactly what to treasure and hold dear, in life, before your independent living really began? Is that something that living life backwards would really help us learn?

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is a story about just such a thing—a baby boy born as an old man. It is a story of a boy who, while being a child trapped inside the body of an elderly man, grows younger as those around him age. It is also, strangely, a story wrapped within a story about a clock built by a brokenhearted, blind clockmaker who designs it to run backwards in the hopes of gaining back that which we’ve lost too soon.

When Benjamin’s (Brad Pitt) birth-father believes his newborn son is a monster, he abandons the baby on the step of a local New Orleans hospice type home. When Queenie (the woman who runs the home) literally stumbles across the baby, her mothering instincts kick in, and she takes him in. After consulting with a doctor, it is believed that the baby will die very shortly, and she vows to love him until that happens. As Benjamin grows up (and younger) Queenie fits easily into the role of mother for him. Their bond, as well as her caring and unconditional love, is truly a beautiful and consistent theme in this film.

At some point (and I say that because it grows a little confusing, exactly how old Benjamin is, most of the time), Daisy, a granddaughter of one of the home’s residents, comes to visit. At the time Daisy is five and immediately senses something different in Benjamin, setting him apart from the rest of the elderly residing in the home. They become fast friends, and in snippets of life moments passing before our eyes, on the screen, we watch their friendship grow closer. As Benjamin is in his 17th year of life (and physically around 65 or 70), he sets out to gain some independence. Teenage Daisy (Cate Blanchett) is accepted into ballet school and their lives take on completely different paths, as one ages and one grows younger. Even so, somehow their lives always seem to gravitate back to each other.

The Good

The consistent theme seems to be living for today. Though often misconstrued, I truly appreciate this theme. We should live out each day, every moment, with intention. This film’s characters learn to appreciate what they have, when they have it. The other element I really appreciated is the faithfulness that rests between Queenie and Benjamin, and YEARS later, between Benjamin and Daisy. These are the elements of their relationships which are most moving.

The Bad

  • Sex: I believe the dates of the film add up so that, though physically elderly, when Benjamin is taken to a brothel to have sex with a prostitute, he would be the equivalent of a ten year old boy. I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure he wouldn’t be more than 14.
  • At some point, while he is still a teenager (emotionally/maturely—while, of course, still being elderly physically), he continues sexual relations with many women.
  • The first time Benjamin believes he is in love, he is having an affair with a married woman.
  • Marriage is incredibly disregarded in this story. When Benjamin is a baby and young child, his “mother” Queenie has a man who comes to her bed from time to time. When this happens, the man will remove Benjamin from the room.
  • Later, when Benjamin and Daisy finally do become romantically involved, sex is a prevalent theme/focus in their relationship. Though the majority of these instances are off-camera, or handled with visual discretion, the effect of it is still negative.
  • The language comes and goes, but at times is very heavy/profane.
  • In one scene, Queenie, her lover, and Benjamin go to church. Queenie asks for healing because she can’t seem to get pregnant. The Preacher lays his hands on her belly and asks God to forgive her for the wrong things she’s done which cause this infertility. He then casts the devil off of Benjamin’s back (he is seven at this point, in the body of an 80-something year old man.) At some point, later, Queenie becomes pregnant with her “God given miracle,” and she makes a comment that it’s because of the Preacher (who incidentally dies shortly after) that Benjamin can walk at all.

Ultimately, this film is being labeled as a great, epic love story. At times it certainly feels that way, but then there are the other times when it feels like something else entirely. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” touches, sometimes only briefly, on abandonment and attachment, familial bonds, friendship and pretty much any other valuable things of human life you can lump into that.

Perhaps it’s the amount of time we’ve been hearing about the making of this film. Maybe, simply, it’s that the hype had led me to hope for more. Though often visually stunning, and, of course, brilliantly acted, I only felt truly captivated or moved towards the end of the film. The rest of the time, I just felt like it was missing something I couldn’t quite name. Its press and movie trailers have led the world, for months, to believe Benjamin Button would be a journey of magical and romantically poetic proportions. While there may have been a few brief moments of such splendor, the majority of the film lacked true depth.

This may very well be the big holiday movie, this season. There are many reasons that I can see it will gain quite a lot of Oscar buzz. Is it worthy of such? Perhaps. If you enjoy members of the cast, and are a fan of long films, you may really like it. I liked it, but that’s about it.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I was completely swept up in the enchantment of this movie. It has instantly become my favourite movie. Parts of it were hard to watch, due to recently sitting by a loved one’s death bed, but for that same reason, the movie was very special. It reminded me of what amazing stories and lives people have had (especially elderly people) and how God has a plan for each one of us, no matter how disfigured or odd we are.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Hayley, age 28 (Australia)
Positive—Absolutely fascinating movie! I did not appreciate the seemingly acceptable promiscuity of Benjamin, either in his growing-up years or in his relationship with Daisy. To me, it cheapened the love which he held for her. However, the film itself was gorgeous and thought-provoking. For older teens or adults, who are capable of handling the content with maturity, it could be an interesting way to spend a few hours. The natural rise and fall of life was portrayed very well and left me with a taste of both the beauty and bitterness of one’s years on Earth. I came away from the movie with the feeling that whether a person were to grow older or (like Benjamin) unnaturally younger, neither is how God intended it to be in the beginning. This film, though sometimes confusing, points out the inevitable shortness of life and the need to make the most of the time that we have.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Danielle S., age 22 (USA)
Positive—There is not much you can say about this movie to someone who has not seen it. It is probably the best movie that has come out in the past few years. It was absolutely stunning and emotionally breath-taking. The story was very well placed together and the acting was superb. One of the things I liked the most was the direction not to take the movie into the R rated realm (at times it definitely could have). I thought that decision increased the quality of the movie. Yes, there were parts that I did not fully agree with but you must remember that the movie’s purpose is to be enjoyed by an audience for entertainment, not to preach morals to the crowd.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Charles Crawford, age 21 (USA)
Positive—This movie was very good and teaches us to love each other, because life goes by too quickly.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Yvette, age 19 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is, at first, a real technical achievement in special effect by mapping the actor Brad Pitt's face onto all the other actor’s faces as the title character. Then the beautiful cinematography by Claudio Miranda and directed impeccably by David Fincher. While the story based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1921 short story of the same name was engrossing, but something is missing. While the script by Eric Roth had strayed far from the original short story, yet was made more enthralling, but then concluding in the same manner as the original, somehow made the magic before it muted.

[SPOILERS ALERT] The trouble I have with this film is the logic at the last third of the film when the old teenage-looking Benjamin tells the appropriately aged Daisy (Cate Blanchett) that it’s just looks on the outside which means that all of those years, Benjamin knows who they were and are, but quickly the film diminished to a pimpled boy who could not remember. I can understand that when Benjamin became a baby, words of his fondness wouldn’t be able to escape him, but at adolescent or even as a babbling toddler, I would have loved to see that Benjamin was able to comfort Daisy, as she takes care of him. I felt this would have bring a much needed closure to the whole experience, but this is just how I wanted the film to end.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Mang Yang, age 36 (USA)
Negative
Negative—This movie was just plain weird! I don’t need to go into the whole reverse aging thing and Benjamin’s dysfunctional relationships. The movie was suppose to be a romantic epic, but it was just a bunch of Hollywood sentiment with very little depth. I think the acting was poor. There was no consequences for the immorality portrayed in the movie, which is not how real life works.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Randy, age 45 (USA)
Negative—This movie was traumatizing! I left the theater thinking they went a bit too far, especially with all the death and the emotional garbage. There was a lot of premarital sex, hookers, drinking, all the stuff that seems to come with a so called “great movie.” But it ruins it, when you see married women having sex with Pitt, who is portrayed as a sex object. There were a few curse words, but the most shocking was close to the end when the boy used the F-word. No need for any of it. I have mixed feelings about how to rate the movie; the story line was well put together, the acting was almost believable, and some parts were so heart-wrenching I screeched, but I think they went overboard, especially with the death of Benjamin Button. It was very traumatizing and almost too sad how they ended it with yet another death of the women. I started to wonder if it would never end.

For me, as a Christian, this movie was very offensive and beyond unrealistic to the point of being somewhat sick. The storyline is good, but there was too much sex, drinking and death in it. No child should see this movie, below the age of 18 for sure. I left it feeling sad, and it was the most depressing movie I watched all year.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Sherrie O'Brien, age 32 (Canada)
Negative—First, I will say that I didn’t know the movie was 3 hours long when we went to see it. Saying that, there were times I almost just left, because I was tired of watching a movie that was going NOWHERE! Although there were very few curse words, the child near the end who blew up with the F-bomb was very disturbing to us.

Also, this movie seemed to be about nothing more than SEX outside of marriage. Or worse, SEX with people who are married to someone else! Benjamin grows up, (younger of course) and dies as a baby at the end! That was to be expected. I knew going in that we would be watching his entire life, but it was NOTHING EVENTFUL. His main love interest, Daisy, kept coming into his life-then out again! So much so that it was quite annoying that they couldn’t just be together. I was very disappointed-not what I was expecting at all!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1½
—Alicia, age 29 (USA)
Negative—The curious in the movie was, to me, completely lost in the fornication. Not once was there a wedding, but there were plenty of married women having affairs with Benjamin, and Benjamin doing the same. If that’s all that life’s about, with such a fascinating character, then how sad. How depressing. Swept off your feet in love? That’s love? Try “Fireproof”—that movie explains real love. No f-bombs in “Fireproof.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—David, age 42 (USA)
Negative—This was a very boring movie. It dragged on and on, and I didn’t find myself caring about the characters, at all. I would have left the theatre, except my husband was watching it with me. Turns out, he wanted to leave as well.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1½
—Jen, age 41 (Canada)
Negative—There was just too much sex outside of marriage in this movie. It was very touching in some areas, but that didn’t outweigh the very often fornication, adultery, drunkeness… did I mention that the film seems to revolve around Benjamin’s sex life?

The other reviews tell you about the movie. I was appalled at what age (mentally) and then physically, they had him fornicating with women and how obviously OPPOSED the whole film was toward marriage!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Angela, age 33 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—I would like to first start off by explaining my moral rating. That is my Biblical moral rating—NOT my spiritual-moral rating… In strict interpretation of the Bible, assuming those who are reading this are conservative Christians, it goes against all its teachings. Marriage, prostitution, sex, etc. However, for those of you that keep more of a metaphorical view on the Bible (mainly the Old Testament), it supports everything you believe in. The purpose of the movie is to show this spiritual, indestructible passion that these two individuals have for one another and how it contrasts to the ideas that our society has built upon us. I have many Evangelical Christian friends, whom I am sure would want to take this movie and throw it back into the depths of hell. …
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Meg, age 16 (USA)
Positive—Based on movie making and story, this is as good as it gets! Based on spiritual values, this movie is awful. There was a ton of sex. Probably the most I’ve ever seen in a movie. There was also plenty of profanity. The violence was pretty moderate though. The overall movie was breathtaking though. The acting was excellent. The cinematography and lighting was magnificent. The subtle special effects and makeup were spectacular. But this movie has one of the best storylines ever. I would highly recommend it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Samuel, age 12 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
First of all kudos for the job you are doing with your reviews. I appreciate the work involved. No, I have not seen this movie as I would not want to support any of the people who made it or acted in it. It is amazing to me that Christians could consider an adulterous affair some kind of a spiritual love that transcends time and place and in any way make allowances for it. In the real, world adultery is a sin and always has heart wrenching, destructive consequences that rip families apart. Adultery hurst everyone involved, especially the spouses of the adulterers and their children and extended families. True love is committing yourself to one person in marriage for better or for worse. True love doesn’t selfishly ask what’s in it for me--true love desires to serve others sacrificially--Look to Jesus and the cross.
—Lonnie, age 53 (USA)
I wanted to comment on Lonnie’s review listed above. I have not seen this movie either, but I couldn’t agree more with the comment made by Lonnie. The heart of God longs for us to renew our minds with the truth of what true love is. Because of the reviews listed here, I will not be seeing this movie. If anyone has ever experience the pain of a spouse having an affair, this movie would be painful to watch, especially if the consequences of such actions are never shown. Sometimes, I ask myself, as a Christ follower, “where do I draw the line with my entertainment choices?”
—Brenda, age 40 (USA)