The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

 
Compelling drama takes on big life questions.
  • Review Date: December 14, 2008
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 167 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie's unique premise is ultimately used to convey messages about the flexible nature of family, the importance of approaching life with curiosity and enthusiasm, and the joys -- and pains -- of true love.

Positive role models

Because of his unusual upbringing and unconventional family, Benjamin grows up with much compassion. He's also very curious about the world and the people in it. He and Daisy have a rocky relationship, but it's clear that they care deeply about each other. A man abandons his baby on the steps of a nursing home, but a young woman
rescues the baby and raises
him. Some characters tease the child for his condition, but for the most part, people are kind and accepting.

Violence

A tugboat happens upon a battle at sea. Dead bodies are everywhere, with the water bloody from the corpses; the enemy fires at it. The captain is shot, and blood oozes from his chest. Some characters fire guns; there are also loud arguments.

Sex

A man stands in his skivvies in front of a mirror. Some non-explicit scenes of a couple making love; in one segment, they appear to be naked under a sheet. A boy, who looks like an old man, visits a brothel filled with scantily clad women. After some time alone with a woman (not shown on screen), he appears to have enjoyed himself thoroughly. Lovers kiss passionately. A young woman discusses having casual sex.

Language

Some cursing, including "bastard," "goddamn," "ass,""s--tless," and, infrequently, "f--k."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some drinking, a few times to the point of inebriation. A kid, albeit one who looks older, gets drunk. Some smoking (mostly era-accurate).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this moving, memorable film is a compelling exploration of life, death, and the enduring power of love. Despite such weighty subjects, older teens -- whose interest may initially be piqued by star Brad Pitt -- will likely find it engrossing, and even touching. Younger viewers, on the other hand, could be overwhelmed by the mature themes. Expect some sexual innuendo and nonexplicit clinches, swearing (including infrequent use of "f--k"), a sequence that includes a bit of bloody violence, and period-accurate smoking and drinking.

What's the story?

Born 80 years old, Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) ages backward over time. Weak and wrinkled as a toddler, unlined and unencumbered as a grandfather, his is a life that moves against everyone else's current -- including that of Queenie (Taraji P. Henson), the African-American servant who finds him abandoned on the steps of a New Orleans nursing home and mothers him, and Daisy (Cate Blanchett), the love of his life, who's a young girl when they first meet. As Benjamin hurtles toward the moment when he and Daisy can finally meet as equals in the middle of life, he makes friends, takes to the seas, and falls in love with a British expatriate (Tilda Swinton). But it's Daisy he ultimately seeks, despite the challenges that loom when they must continue their journey in preordained -- and sadly opposite -- directions.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, has a compelling, haunting plot. Watching it is an emotional experience, despite it's meandering pace (it could have -- should have -- been made leaner to make it even stronger). Director David Fincher, collaborating with Pitt for the third time, takes advantage of technological wizardry to move the story forward without letting the tricks overwhelm the story. This isn't a film that stands on the shoulders of special-effects gimmickry.

Like the Oscar-winning Forrest Gump (which also broke ground with its techno wizardry), Benjamin Button has a living, beating heart. A wistful awareness of mortality, and of the clock ticking ceaselessly toward an inevitable end, looms over everything. Benjamin is a splendidly written character, and Pitt plays him tenderly, juggling melancholy and hope, sometimes all at once. And Blanchett is the perfect complement; a tempest who finds her way with grace. Their affair makes for an extraordinary love story.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages. What is it attempting to

  • say about life, love and death? Are these messages relatable, even though the basic premise is pure fantasy?

  • Do you think this movie could have been made without advanced special

  • effects and computer techniques? How is this movie different from other

  • Hollywood films, especially those that rely on more obvious effects?

  • What do you think it would be like to grow up with the

  • zest of youth masked by an aged body?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 25, 2008
DVD release date:May 5, 2009
Cast:Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton
Director:David Fincher
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Genre:Drama
Run time:167 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:brief war violence, sexual content, language and smoking

This review of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written bySpielberg00 August 27, 2011
age 12+
 

It's pretty good, but reeeaaally long. Granted, it's a life story, and it's no FORREST GUMP (as to say that it's no comedy)...

My rating: PG-13 for smoking throughout, some strong language, suggestive content, and some war violence.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written byWhatTheyMissed September 30, 2011
age 13+
 

Film is misrated!

Should be rated R for mature themes and a brief love scene.
Teen, 16 years old Written bykillerlooksproduc January 14, 2009
age 13+
 

something worth thinking about.

this movie was surreal. took back to the early 1920,you could feel the vibe of that time in the world. from the extraordinary custom designs,color tone and set designs. Visual effects are incredible! you won't even notice them. Brad Pitt takes his acting to a new level.its very sad,inspiring and beautiful. with some real funny laughs here and there. it is a bit long,but don't let that stop you from seeing it.

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