When I first heard of The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, I couldn't greet the idea that it would be good with anything but skepticism. In fact, the word "skepticism" was insufficient to describe how I felt so I had to create an entirely new word, "Buttoncism," to properly convey how I felt. Buttoncism's proper Webster's definition is, "So totally super honkin' skeptical about something being presented to you that it creates in you a certainty that the exact opposite is true. You would doubt the love you feel for your own mother before you would doubt the certainty created by a feeling of Buttonscism."
First off, Button is a light hearted holiday film about a man who is born old and ages backwards directed by David Fincher. Fincher, of course, is the guy who's best known for directing movies like Seven and Zodiac. Ok, I can see my way past Fincher's previous work and think maybe he's capable of creating entertaining fiction that doesn't involve sociopaths committing strings of murders that are as brutal as they are creative. Fincher is a master at creating mood and atmosphere and he has a screenplay written by Forrest Gump author Eric Roth to work with so this is not what caused the fit of Buttoncism in me.
No, what ratcheted the Buttoncism up to 11 was a horrific event in the world of cinema that occurred almost 12 years ago. I hesitate to bring this up since most of society has pretty much blocked this from their memories and that is how it should be. So it is with a heavy hear that I must remind the world of Jack. Jack was a movie in which Robin Williams played a boy whose body aged four times faster than normal people so he looked like a 40 year old man at the age of 10. Jack was equal parts dumb, trite, boring and insulting to the collective intelligence of society and was the first thing I thought of when I saw the trailer for Benjamin Button. They both try to make a feel-good classic with characters who are outcasts in society due to the fact that they age in a freakish way and, by showing us the troubled lives of these men, attempt to make a statement about human nature in general. I'm not sure what Button's statement will be but Jack's was, "Guys who age in a freakish way are total goobs who do stupid, boring and unfunny things." But hey, Button has one of our best directors at the helm. Jack didn't have that advantage, right?
Jack was directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Yes, Francis Ford Fucking Coppola figured that the cherry on the sundae of his career in which The Godfather was the ice cream would be to make a movie that had Robin Williams playing a man-child who said dialogue like, "I'm like a shooting star, burning brightly.*"
The good news is that Button is getting something that Jack never got: good reviews. The producers felt so confident about their movie that we're seeing reviews two weeks before its premiere and the Tomatometer currently has those reviews as 90% favorable. So now I'll go see Benjamin Button with a bit of optimism that I'll be drawn into a strange and wonderful world about a magical man and his struggle against the world that doesn't understand him instead of entering the theater thinking, "I'd better make sure I'm not near sharp objects or a loaded gun when this thing starts getting stupid."
To quote another, simpler Jack: I hope this movie m-m-makes me happy.
*I'm not 100% if that's exactly what he said but I know it's similar to a speech he gave when the character Jack graduated from high school knowing he'd only have a few more years to live before he died of old age. Gosh, I wonder why more people didn't find that entertaining.