Monday, November 16, 2009

The Box (***1/2)

The Box. 111 mins. PG-13. Written and Directed by Richard Kelly. Starring Cameron Diaz, James Marsden, and Frank Langella.

There are going to be a ton of people who despise The Box. It tanked its first weekend at the box office, and audiences roundly gave it a grade of "F." I respectfully disagree. I dug The Box. Some movies have a certain vibe to them, and you're either on the same wavelength or you're not. This one worked for me. Going in, I didn't know the movie would be set in 1976. The place is a Virginia suburb, and Cameron Diaz and James Marsden play a happily married couple with one son. When a mysterious man with half a face (the dependably unnerving Frank Langella) drops a box at the couple's doorstep, he presents a morally dubious proposition: push the button on the box and someone somewhere who they don't know will die, and they'll get one million dollars in return. Needless to say, Diaz presses the button and bad things happen. Although The Box is being promoted as a horror movie, it's not. In my mind, the '70s setting is the key to the movie's success. It has the same type of pacing, music, and mood of many paranoid thrillers of that era, and rather than provide thrills or scares, it settles for just being weird and atypical. The Box is an off-kilter combo of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Three Days of the Condor, and any given Twilight Zone episode. Writer-director Richard Kelly achieves what he set out to do - and builds nicely on the promise of Donnie Darko. He's not a one-hit wonder, and The Box should get more respect as time passes. It's not perfect, and I'm not sure I understood everything that happens - perhaps you, fellow readers, can help explain the various twists and turns, but The Box struck me as unique and interesting, with a dark ending that satisfies.

- John


At 8:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

3 1/2 stars, John, say it isn't so. Unless it is out of say oh 10 stars maybe. This movie was like a really long long long Twilight Zone episode. And I like the Twilight Zone and I liked this movie for about the amount of time that a episode would have taken, then it just got boring and predictable. If 5 stars is what you are going to be giving I would say this would get 2, maybe 2.5 if I was feeling generous but 3.5, yikes!

At 10:00 PM, Blogger Hammer said...

Hey, I understand exactly why you didn't like it. I think my review was fair. I start out saying people are going to hate it. I know I'm in the minority on this one. I just dug the '70s vibe, and thought there was always something cool to look at. I didn't find it boring - just a little too confusing for its own good. But thought it righted the ship with the ending.


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