I wasn't never sure if I was going to see this movie in theater or not. I've seen both Kelly's previous films (Donnie Darko and Southland Tales), both of which take quite a bit of, well, something to sit through and still stay sane. The first time I saw Donnie Darko, I knew I had seen something pretty good. Strange, but good. In fact, it made no sense whatsoever, but something about it still resonated with me. I saw Southland Tales earlier this year after hearing mixed reviews of either "this movie is terrible" and "this is a really good bad movie." And sure enough, it took everything I had to sit through that way too long film, but in the end I felt it was worth it, because it was simultaneously one of the worst movies I had ever seen mixed with one of the most ambitious and possibly genius. And, like its predecessor, it made absolutely no sense.

So enter The Box. When I first saw the trailers, I thought this would be one of his more accessible films. After all, with a pretty straight-forward concept, how could you mess it up? Then the reviews started coming in. Did I actually want to sit through a roughly 2 hour movie that made absolutely no sense and had thus far had a 10:1 good:bad review rating? Everything I had heard said it was just yet another Kelly film: (After the first half of the movie) 1) it just stops making any sense whatsoever, 2) it's confusing, 3) it's weird, and 4) it's pretty terrible. But I was off today and decided to give it a shot. So now that I've seen the movie, do I agree with these sentiments? 1) No, 2) No, 3) Yes, and 4) No.

The basic story for the film is that Norma (Cameron Diaz) and Arthur (James Marsden), a couple in need of money, are given a box with a button on it by a strange man named Arlington Steward (Frank Langella). Here's the deal: If they press the button within 24 hours, they will receive 1 million dollars. The catch? Someone somewhere in the world that they do not know will die.

It's really not until about 45 minutes to an hour into the movie before it starts getting a bit weird. I mean, there's the weird characterizations (disfigured foot, disfigured face, random nosebleeds), but that's nothing compared to what comes later. However, everybody is saying that it makes no sense, it's confusing, and they just had to stop trying to figure it out and roll with it if they were even going to remotely enjoy it. I didn't find it confusing at all. Maybe I'm just weird, but I thought it was pretty easy to figure out and it made quite a bit of sense. I actually thought some of it was a bit predictable, honestly (not everything, mind you). And the closer the movie came to its close, the more I began to like it, as more and more behind the purpose of the box was revealed. I just really liked the whole concept of it.

The acting could have been better, though. I'd say the only two who were really any good were James Marsden and Frank Langella. It's like Cameron Diaz couldn't be bothered to even phone this one in, and all the "blank" people, as I call them, ended up kinda annoying after a while. But Marsden held his own as a leading man, while Langella played a pretty good bad guy. If they had any bad moments, it was a scripting issue. There were a few really cheesy/forced dialogue moments (for instance, the 'christmas tree lights/everybody dies' conversation). But they weren't too terribly common.

The only other thing of note is the special effects. They could have been better. The facial scar on Langella was almost distractingly fake. They could have taken note from The Dark Knight on that one. And all the 'water' effects hardly looked complete. The Abyss had better water effects, and that was made 20 years ago.

Overall, I honestly didn't think I'd end up liking it as much as I did. Will I run out to buy it as soon as it hits DVD? Probably not. But I don't regret seeing it. If I saw it on Showtime or some other movie channel, I might stop and watch. It wasn't remotely as bad as I'd heard, and the story was pretty good. Was it weird? Hell yes. But it wasn't confusing, nor did I have to stop thinking about it to enjoy it. It was good.

I Am McLovin!

(P.S. I'm still not sure if there was some intentional comedy thrown in there from the strangeness, especially with the 'blank' people, but I would hope that Kelly wasn't taking the whole film seriously. Either way, it made for decent entertainment.)


  1. I can understand peoples' confusion. There's a lot that gets thrown at you in a relatively short period of time, and there are some devices (the blank people, for example; nice name) that you see and don't clearly understand the first time you see them.

    Glad you liked it; I agree that it's a much more cohesive and complete film than ST, but in the end, I might like that one better. Something about just HOW crazy it is is appealing.

    By the way, either that's a typo in the first line or you're really Southern: I wasn't never sure...?

  2. (Spoiler)

    With the blank people, I was just kinda like "Oh. They're aliens." And then later "Oh, they're being possessed by Arlington." Each of those were enough explanation for me. Or maybe I just picked up on the whole 'alien' thing quicker than others.

    I think that ST is more ambitious, and I think I liked what ST *tried* to do more than what The Box tried to do. But I think The Box was more successful, which is probably why I enjoyed it more overall.

    And yeah, that's a typo. It should be either "I was never sure" or "I wasn't ever sure."


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