Benjamin Gump
January 23, 2009 6:38 AM   Subscribe

Benjamin Gump - I was just thinking this, after watching the first half of BB..."Both movies were written by Eric Roth, a man who now owes me seventeen dollars."

and then there is this.
posted by mrblack (87 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is this something I need a movie theatre to understand?
posted by furtive at 6:44 AM on January 23, 2009


You have to do the best with what God gave you.
posted by gman at 6:44 AM on January 23, 2009


Seventeen dollars? Is he charging him for both movies?
posted by graventy at 6:54 AM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Button is Gump in Fitzgerald's clothing. Essentially Roth took Fitzgerald's short story and injected Forrest Gump into it. I'm surprised they didn't cast Tom Hanks.
posted by spicynuts at 6:56 AM on January 23, 2009


I praise the fine feral instincts that kept me away from both these films.
posted by Billegible at 6:58 AM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am one of the fortunate beings that never ever desired to see either films , but I did see
Steve Martins' The Jerk which seems up that alley.
posted by doctorschlock at 6:59 AM on January 23, 2009


Dude got paid twice!

1. Come up with idea for movie.

2. Write script and sen it around.

3. ?????????

4. Profit!

and now this is the genius part, not just dismantling the internet trope, but rebuilding it to include one more step that, without making it egregiously more complicated, still manages to makes it oh so much more munificent:

5. Repeat!
posted by From Bklyn at 7:00 AM on January 23, 2009


“If you see only one version of Forrest Gump this year, make it The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

LOL
posted by Poolio at 7:01 AM on January 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


I’ve recieved a lot of crap (especially on YouTube) for suggesting that “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” had a lot of similarities...

I always get excited when I stumble upon a review that begins with "recieve," for I know I am about to read the opinions of a bold, shrewd, devil-may-care maverick -- someone who can look at spell-check's little red-dotted lines and shout "conformity be damned."

Am I the only one who has discovered parallels between Terminator and Terminator 2? Both feature Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose state California has a $16 billion deficit.
posted by terranova at 7:02 AM on January 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


The Curious Case of Crafting Posts.
posted by gman at 7:02 AM on January 23, 2009


Yes. You are the only one. Everyone else sees parallels between Terminator and High School Musical.
posted by spicynuts at 7:04 AM on January 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: Like Forrest Gump, but without the AIDS.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:05 AM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Except, no Aids"
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:06 AM on January 23, 2009


Let me tell you something: in an over-air-conditioned theater with 44oz of Mountain Dew, 142 minutes is almost an eternity. I bear a grudge against Gump to this day for that reason.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:06 AM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Apparently the Academy Awards people do not read the Metafilter.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 7:06 AM on January 23, 2009


I suspect people will have similar reactions when the Angels and Demons movie comes out (self-link).
posted by abcde at 7:08 AM on January 23, 2009


The Curious Case of Notusingapreview Button starring me.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:10 AM on January 23, 2009


Is there any reason to see this movie? Or "Forrest Gump," for that matter?
posted by blucevalo at 7:12 AM on January 23, 2009


The hate for Benjamin Button always seems odd to me, especially when people spend time comparing and contrasting the two just to show that "see, see, they're similar!!!" As if there hasn't been similar films before, especially when the writers are the same

It was good film, a bit long, sure but enjoyable enough. Essentially it was bittersweet love letter to the South and New Orleans in particular, whereas Gump was study of a character vs changing times.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:14 AM on January 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


The Curious Case of Notusingapreview Button starring me.

The Curious Case of Notusingapreview Button staring at me.
posted by gman at 7:17 AM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, there are pretty deep similarities, I'd agree. BUT. It's not exactly a new trick to take two things and find things that are similar between them while ignoring crucial differences.
posted by kingbenny at 7:19 AM on January 23, 2009


Eric Roth was one of the people duped by Madoff's ponzi scheme. This makes me feel better somehow.
posted by orme at 7:20 AM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I didn't like Benjamin Button because it was creepy as hell, and the overacting, accents and voiceovers drove me up the wall. Also because it was about 92 years long. Oh. And because the framing device was both obvious and annoying.

The similarities to Forrest Gump are just a little extra fuel on the fire.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:33 AM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, there are pretty deep similarities, I'd agree. BUT. It's not exactly a new trick to take two things and find things that are similar between them while ignoring crucial differences.

Indeed. (for U.S. viewers)
posted by gman at 7:37 AM on January 23, 2009


Let me tell you something: in an over-air-conditioned theater with 44oz of Mountain Dew, 142 minutes is almost an eternity. I bear a grudge against Gump to this day for that reason.

You bear a grudge against a movie because you didn't plan your bathroom trip better? Or because you failed to take into account the length of the film (information which is available beforehand) when purchasing a ginormous beverage?

I hate when things I could have prevented and affect only me happen, but I certainly don't get mad at other entities for it. Weirdo.
posted by grubi at 7:41 AM on January 23, 2009


The Daily Show streams to outside the US too. I can watch it just fine.
posted by bjrn at 7:42 AM on January 23, 2009


Similarities, yes.
CGI kinda clunky, yes.
That part in the movie where Benny B is finally young enough to look like Brad Pit, and then he simply becomes Brad Pitt, film actor TM, hard to escape.
Enjoyable movie going experience, sure. Cute story. Very pretty.

Ten thousand award nominations, are you fucking serious? This movie is fucking clown shoes!
posted by es_de_bah at 7:42 AM on January 23, 2009


Or this one for Canadians about 10 minutes in.
posted by gman at 7:44 AM on January 23, 2009


Both films also feel very similar, tonally, to Big Fish.
posted by Esoquo at 7:58 AM on January 23, 2009


Forrest Gump won Best Film and it was such a joke.

That was the last time I really cared about the Academy Awards.

Benjamin Button winning anything will just confirm my feelings towards the ridiculousness of the Oscars.
posted by sentinel chicken at 8:00 AM on January 23, 2009


Metafilter: fucking clown shoes!
posted by jquinby at 8:13 AM on January 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Similar to how "Ray" and "Walk the Line" were the exact same movies, except one was about a black guy with a piano and the other a white guy with a guitar.
posted by jon_hansen at 8:16 AM on January 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I didn't like Benjamin Button because it was creepy as hell, and the overacting, accents and voiceovers drove me up the wall.

No argument , the whole getting younger thing was outlandish as hell and consistent plot hole you can put several eight lane highways through. Blanchett can never keep a consistent accent through a movie.

And because the framing device was both obvious and annoying.

Eh, I thought it fit in the sense we were seeing things how Benjamin would: we know from early on what's coming, there's just the matter of how we deal with it.

It's been an oddly good month or two for American movies, IMO. Gran Torino was an excellent, BB good. Slumdog Millionaire, The Wrestler and Revolutionary Road look promising.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:24 AM on January 23, 2009


I wonder how these would have turned out if they were written be Eli Roth instead.
posted by owtytrof at 8:37 AM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Revolutionary Road: Be sure to bring a hose long enough to reach from your tailpipe to your car window. Not the feel-good hit of the year.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:38 AM on January 23, 2009


How 'bout distribution companies banding together to offer subscription services that are valid regardless of venue - so if I subscribe I get discounts at the movie theatre itself, when I buy a ‘hard copy’ or stream/download it? A Universal Movie Pass? With all content available at the same time?
posted by jettloe at 8:51 AM on January 23, 2009


It captures the dynamics of bitter family arguments astonishingly well.
posted by Artw at 8:55 AM on January 23, 2009


My prediction: Button sweeps the technical awards they holdin a shed out back, nada for the big ceremony.
posted by Artw at 8:57 AM on January 23, 2009


Apologies - that was meant for this post! :)

+ the structure of Benjamin Button killed me - anytime it got mildly interesting we flashed forward to Cate Blanchett theatrically dying in the hospital room while an OMINOUS STORM gathered outside. Could only make it half-way through before walking out - they did cross the Uncanny Valley successfully though.
posted by jettloe at 9:04 AM on January 23, 2009


(spoilers)

.
.
.

an OMINOUS STORM that does fuck all!
posted by Artw at 9:07 AM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


A bit off topic, but was anyone else besides me let down that Benjamin didn't end up as a giant baby at the end? It's the only hope I had during that horribly long movie!

Worst part about the movie was that it was kind of boring but it had a countdown clock. I feel bored and Pitt's still in his 50s! I'm going to be here forever!

But come on man. Giant baby!
posted by bDiddy at 9:09 AM on January 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


+ there was one flash forward that really killed me - we leave Brad Pitt to flash forward to Julia Ormond, (completely wasted in the role), leaving her mom's bed in the hospital to go to a corridor outside to smoke a cigarette - she's then informed by a nurse that there's no smoking in the hospital.

that's it.

then back to Brad Pitt.

what.

the.
posted by jettloe at 9:09 AM on January 23, 2009


wasn't this already covered on the blue? I remember reading about this ages ago.
posted by mary8nne at 9:15 AM on January 23, 2009


they did cross the Uncanny Valley successfully though.

Duuuude...there are robots in this movie? Why didn't somebody tell me???? Maybe I can catch the first matinee if I leave now.
posted by nosila at 9:21 AM on January 23, 2009


Perhaps you remember reading about it IN THE FUTURE
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:22 AM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


it's not worth it. but it will be remembered for the fact most of the audience had no idea Brad Pitt's head was CGI for the first 50min of the movie.
posted by jettloe at 9:24 AM on January 23, 2009


wasn't this already covered on the blue?

Everybody loves a 2 minute hate.

that's it.

then back to Brad Pitt.


Somewhat awkward yeah, but I took it like so:

She tried to go backward in time, at least via tradition or culture, but time (society) was firmly moving forward and in fact had already done so.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:25 AM on January 23, 2009


Other oscar predictions: gays beat foreigns in suprise upset!
posted by Artw at 9:25 AM on January 23, 2009


Is there any reason to see this movie? Or "Forrest Gump," for that matter?

When you're visiting your parents for Christmas and the three of you have decided to go out to a movie the day after because you feel like you should do something, but it's the third day you've been there and everyone is already starting to secretly get a little annoyed with each other, and you can't decide what movie you want to see?

This is a safe enough choice for everyone to agree on.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:26 AM on January 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


So F. Scott Fitzgerald ripped off Forrest Gump?
posted by scarello at 9:27 AM on January 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


no baby at the end? does he at least get a visit from Orson during his stay on earth?
posted by mrgrimm at 9:27 AM on January 23, 2009


mrgrimm - does Orson visit at the end of that episode? mork's son was named mearth, right? (mork + mindy + earth)
posted by bDiddy at 9:40 AM on January 23, 2009


My prediction: Button sweeps the technical awards they holdin a shed out back, nada for the big ceremony.

The Sci-Tech awards are all over but the shouting this year. Best Visual Effects is given during the big ceremony, and I'd say Button was a lock even if my employers didn't work on it.

For the sake of comparison, go to YouTube and look up those utterly scarring Orville Redenbacher, Archlich commercials from a couple years back. Watch them until you're fully disgusted by the violation of the Uncanny Valley, and then watch a few clips from Benjamin Button and realize that, really, it's only been two years between "horrific undead popcorn hawker" and "an aged Brad Pit tthat fools most of the average audience."

I sat next to a guy who was working on those Orville commercials. The real horror is that ORVILLE IS A WOMAN under there.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 9:41 AM on January 23, 2009


Brad Pitt, and yes, those Orville spots were directed by Fincher as well. My kingdom for the advent of the three-minute edit window.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 9:45 AM on January 23, 2009


So the next Beowolf will inch closer to non-faliure?

(it was so very very close, and so very very far)
posted by Artw at 9:48 AM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


So the next Beowolf will inch closer to non-faliure? (it was so very very close, and so very very far)

No matter how good the CGI is it can't fix a crappy script. Which I'm assuming you mean was the "so very very far" part.

(Look, I'm sorry -- Grendel's mom was not hot. And she and Beowulf do not get it on.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:53 AM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


So the next Beowolf will inch closer to non-faliure?

Zemeckis has his own production facility for motion capture and VFX work now, ImageMovers Digital, so he may actually manage that feat.

As far as I'm aware, though, there are distinct technical differences between his approach and Fincher's. Everyone does their performance capture a little differently, so Fincher's advances may not translate directly into Beowulf 2: Grendel's Grandmother not sucking.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 9:54 AM on January 23, 2009


Name: Zombie Orville
Occupation: Horrific Undead Popcorn Hawker
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:07 AM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


(Look, I'm sorry -- Grendel's mom was not hot. And she and Beowulf do not get it on.)

Heh. I kind of liked that particular take on it, and thought Gaimans little trick to make the story work was rather clever.
posted by Artw at 10:16 AM on January 23, 2009


I almost bought a box of Forrest Gump chocolates in a dollar store, maybe a year after the movie came out. They were the greatest. See, because it was a whole box of vanilla butter cremes. Really! Life is like a box of chocolate, ALL VANILLA BUTTER CREMES.

Much like the dollar store Forrest Gump chocolates, I DO know what I am going to get should I bite into Benjamin Button: A curious case of the runs.

(Sorry for the hate, but this sort of dewy, magical populist inspirational horseshit is my least favorite sort of movie)
posted by dirtdirt at 10:23 AM on January 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


[fixed fpp link]
posted by jessamyn at 10:25 AM on January 23, 2009


To be fair, it didn't inspire the same kind of active dislike from me that Big Fish did, and was rather charming in parts. It's just that the overall result felt kind of empty, like a big balloon of self-significance with nothing but air inside.
posted by Artw at 10:26 AM on January 23, 2009


It's just that the overall result felt kind of empty, like a big balloon of self-significance with nothing but air inside.

Well, it is set in the American South.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:00 AM on January 23, 2009


I actually enjoyed it from beginning to end, as did the teenage companion I saw it with.

I avoided Gump until I saw it along the way a few years ago. I didn't know the writer was the same as for Buttons, until an earlier MeFi post. The plot similarities are clear, and I have taken my opinion of Buttons down a few notches after thinking about the pointless hummingbird, and some other elements. But Buttons was beautifully filmed in Fincher's distinctive style, ambitious and nuanced (compared to Gump). I think it succeeded beautifully.

The two movies make a good study in the interaction between director and writer.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 11:06 AM on January 23, 2009


I will not have your aspersions cast on my beloved Big Fish though now that I think about it, there was a very definite difference of opinion between the Americans and non- in the group I saw it with.
posted by kittyprecious at 11:10 AM on January 23, 2009


I think the lesson we can learn form these movies is that in life magical, weird, random stuff happens, so long as that life is lived in a movie where magical, weird, random stuff happens.

Also women with any kind of smarts are whores who will die of AIDS.
posted by Artw at 11:15 AM on January 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


mrgrimm - does Orson visit at the end of that episode? mork's son was named mearth, right? (mork + mindy + earth)

No, just the usual telepathic chit-chat.

I think Orson did once send an Orkan elder (a dorky little kid) to earth, but I can't remember what happened. Yes, that is J. Winters as Mearth, who (like all Orkans) ages backwards.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:16 AM on January 23, 2009


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
posted by Artw at 11:21 AM on January 23, 2009


(Summary)
posted by Artw at 11:22 AM on January 23, 2009


As someone who left New Orleans because of Katrina, and lost nearly everything as a result, the use of Katrina as a framing device felt like a slap in the face -- not because the subject shouldn't be addressed by art, but because the film didn't address it, but just threw it in there as a way to ratchet up the tension without really having anything to say about a Gulf Coast-sized storm that destroyed the city.

Thanks. I really wanted to relive that for no reason whatsoever.

The being said, I did appreciate seeing City Park. My girlfriend and I used to picnic at the Peristyle every few weeks, and miss it horribly, and it was nice to see it on film, even if the film was a special effects monstrosity designed to wring maximum pathos out of some very shallow self-help truisms.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:39 AM on January 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm just taking a wild guess here, but did you have the urge to strangle someone involved with the making of the movie when, during the closing monologue, the old clock shop gets flooded and it's like SYMBOLISM and shit, and that's all you get from Katrina?
posted by Artw at 11:42 AM on January 23, 2009


I thought I would hate "Forrest Gump" but it's a perfectly good movie.

Haven't see BB yet, but the Fitzgerald story is amazing. Hope they didn't butcher it too badly.

"Synedoche, New York" is BY FAR the best movie of 2008. The fact it got no nominations, not even for screenplay, is appalling. But really, the screenplay Oscars couldn't be made any more of a joke then they already are (cf Cody, Diablo).
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:49 AM on January 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hope they didn't butcher it too badly.

Well, the bit about someone being born old and aging backwards, they kept that...
posted by Artw at 11:50 AM on January 23, 2009


drjimmy11 - interesting. It reviewed HORRIBLY.
posted by Artw at 11:51 AM on January 23, 2009


Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.

And that's all I have to say about that.
posted by mazola at 12:00 PM on January 23, 2009


Yeah, same movie: my posse all agreed on this when we saw it.

The only difference, really, is that Button is horrifically sad and a bit creepier all the way through. Gump added extra-annoying uplifting bits, especially at the end.
posted by rokusan at 12:05 PM on January 23, 2009


"Synedoche, New York" is BY FAR the best movie of 2008. The fact it got no nominations, not even for screenplay, is appalling.

The basic idea is compelling, and the various quirky themes were amusing, but talk about the annals of masturbatory filmmaking: Charlie Kaufman should not be allowed to direct his own screenplay. It's like he just forgot about halfway through who his characters were and went to extremes to ensure that anything like a plot was buried under the misery.
posted by kittyprecious at 1:40 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


It sounds an awful lot like I'm going to prefer it as a Bjork video.
posted by Artw at 1:59 PM on January 23, 2009


As I get older I find I have less and less tolerance for cultural masturbation, it just seems too easy a plot device, rather than writing anything original lets just throw a bunch of historical events at the character and see how he reacts. Indeed I have also long hated the majority of book to movie processes, not really because the movies are so frekking different from the book, I can come to terms with that, but because I think it is lazy and unoriginal (there are about 4 exceptions I can think of). Oh, and I found Forrest Gump to be vaguely misogynistic on top of everything else.
posted by edgeways at 2:19 PM on January 23, 2009


spicynuts : Yes. You are the only one. Everyone else sees parallels between Terminator and High School Musical.

"Come with me if you want to dance!"
posted by quin at 2:39 PM on January 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Try suspending disbelief.

Just once. You might actually enjoy a movie then.

Sure, it's Gumpish (that video was spot on), but so what? Hollywood has never done a remake?
posted by bwg at 3:56 PM on January 23, 2009


I wanted to like Big Fish - bought it before seeing it. Tim Burton is pretty good, and I like his style of eye candy, but he's inconsistent. The concept was interesting, but probably moreso as a short story than a full blown film. A short story might have been just the right length for this idea. The way it ended was tidy but it didn't go deep enough; it was a bit cute. I didn't quite buy the Danny DeVito character, either, and he's no slouch.

Not sure if I want to like this one. I actually liked Gump, but it worked for me, and I have a sentimental side. It's definitely a film best left for the moments when you need a family-safe group choice. The novelty was interesting enough to propel the story, and it was genuinely funny at times, but it's not earth shattering. Didn't realize the literary roots until later. But it's not something I seek out or own on DVD.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:35 PM on January 23, 2009


A special shout out needs to go to Five People You Meet In Heaven, which shows that even death is no escape from magical journeys where you meet assorted quirky characters who teach you something about life, and is possibly the worst example of the genre I've suffered through... I was with relatives on the in-law side so I wasn't even able to be sarcastic about the utter uselessness of learning valuale life lessons after you're dead, and just numbly gritted my teeth through the whole thing.
posted by Artw at 9:07 PM on January 25, 2009


Millionaire is my best picture so far, from opening right through credits, but I haven't seen GT yet. Perhaps it has dancing.

Button's early CG creeped me out straight outta the gate, and the depressing relentlessness of the script sort of maintained that level of discomfort even during the middle when the actors were, like, real people. Beautifully shot though. Fincher.

Just saying.
posted by rokusan at 6:46 AM on January 26, 2009


Alien 3 creates a sort of buffer that prevents anything else being my least-favourite Fincher movie.
posted by Artw at 9:04 AM on January 26, 2009


"Synedoche, New York" is BY FAR the best movie of 2008. The fact it got no nominations, not even for screenplay, is appalling.

The basic idea is compelling, and the various quirky themes were amusing, but talk about the annals of masturbatory filmmaking: Charlie Kaufman should not be allowed to direct his own screenplay. It's like he just forgot about halfway through who his characters were and went to extremes to ensure that anything like a plot was buried under the misery.


Wow... It is so amazing how differently things come across to different people. I agree with the original poster. Synecdoche NY was by far the best movie I saw this year. It was deeply, reflectively interesting the entire way through, and it just kept going further.

And I saw quite a lot of movies, too, including Benjamin Button, which was ok. It had some interesting moments, and was consistently entertaining. There were intriguing ideas about connection, fate and temporality. But I found the flashback plot device annoying, the Katrina thing pointless & almost disrespectful, and the ending too quick and much less interesting than it could have been (the awkwardness and difficulty of a wise baby receding into oblivion mostly avoided by early onset alzheimer's)

But, back to Synecdoche, I also... I don't see how you can say "the basic idea is compelling" and then say it's "masturbatory filmmaking" - the basic idea is that constant self-reflecting that you call "masturbatory" - so if it's compelling..? what were you compelled by that got lost? The whole point of the movie was the exploration of the search for meaning in a finite world, and the need to express or represent rather than simply live.. in a sense the whole movie was about "masturbation", in the form of our reflective lives (non-utilitarian production or expression for pleasure or self-gratification or because we just feel the need...)
posted by mdn at 7:14 PM on January 29, 2009


I don't see how you can say "the basic idea is compelling" and then say it's "masturbatory filmmaking"

Don't jizz on my face and tell me it's beauty cream.

But seriously, the idea of a guy being so wrapped up in his own story that he forgets to live his own life (or pay attention to the [spoiler!] crumbling world outside) is one thing, but it's not a documentary. I'm not saying that the only purpose of film is entertainment, but there has to be either an engaging plot or an emotional connection to the characters for it to be worth watching...I didn't have any reason to care who most of the characters in the second half were because they were introduced so sloppily and didn't do anything to distinguish themselves, and that's a fatal flaw.
posted by kittyprecious at 12:02 PM on January 30, 2009


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