The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is loosely based on the F. Scott Fitzgerald story of the same name.  When you read the full version of the original story, you kind of have to wonder about the changes director David Fincher made and what was gained and lost in the movie.

(Spoilers)  The movie is told in flashback by Benjamin’s true love on her deathbed during the Katrina hurricane.  Most of the movie takes place in New Orleans where Benjamin is born and grows up.  Benjamin is born to Thomas Button, a button maker.  He’s so hideous and old-looking for a baby, that when Benjamin’s mother dies in childbirth, his father decides to run down to the docks and throw him into the water.  Interrupted by a cop, he ends up dumping the baby on the nearest doorstep.  This happens to be an old folks home, which is convenient, so that Benjamin, who is born an old man and ages backward, fits right in.

The problem with this tactic is that Fincher keeps trying to avoid or play down the driving force behind the original concept: Benjamin ages backwards and it freaks people out.  Fincher basically turns it into a love story, but Benjamin doesn’t seem to have any other motivation than to eventually hook up with his true love.  The movie is a series of near misses and then finally they get together.  But then, Benjamin decides he has to leave because he doesn’t want his wife to have to raise him along with their daughter.  But that sacrifice doesn’t really work.  By the time Benjamin is really getting younger, his daughter is in his teens.  And since most people in the movie seemed to deal with his “affliction” well enough most of his life, it seems kind of stupid that he’d suddenly jet.

That isn’t to say the movie isn’t well made.  The costumes, the make up, the effects, the cinematography and the performances are all great.  It’s just that the story and the message get somewhat muddled.  Live life for the moment, I guess, is the moral.  It just seems that despite all the fancy filmmaking, it probably could’ve been stripped down to a simpler story.  I think he also cops out at the end (big spoiler) by making Benjamin suffer from dementia in his final years.  His days as a teenager (ie old man) could’ve been interesting as his mind slowly went.  Of course, that wouldn’t have been Brad Pitt, they would’ve needed another actor.  A friend of mine was on the fence about seeing this movie because he heard Brat Pitt was only in it for twenty minutes, but that’s not true.  Most of the movie is Pitt and he’s good.  It’s just the story is kinda boring sometimes.  The movie is two hours and 48 minutes.  It really should’ve been closer to two hours even.  Fincher just doesn’t seem to get much out of all that extra screen time.

The movie sort of feels like Forest Gump, except without a slow guy and without all the historical references.  Although Benjamin gets caught up in WW2, it’s very brief.  Not that this is an action film, but after that there is almost no action whatsoever.  The next historical pinpoint doesn’t happen until Fincher shows a clip of Fernwood 2 Night on the TV.  Weird choice in my view.   Bottom line, it just seems like Fincher and his team did a great job on the details, but kind of fell short pulling the entire piece together.  It’s not a bad movie, but some, like me, won’t find it totally satisfying and will be checking your cellphone for the time by the end of it.  I give it 7 keggers out of 10.