A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
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.
Talk to your kids 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?
- In theaters: December 25, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: 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
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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