Sunday, February 28, 2010

First off, I want to give permission to all of the Donnie Darko fans to dislike the The Box. Richard Kelley directed both and I have read some opinions online that offer up the premise that those who criticize The Box did not take time to understand it. I understood it all too well and did not like it.

The set up: Norma and Arthur Lewis ( Cameron Diaz and James Marsden) are enjoying a plain but calm 1970’s life with all of the required bad fashion and d├ęcor. Below the surface though there are economic fears as they struggle to make sure they can afford to send their son to the expensive private school where Norma is a teacher. Enter the box and Arlington Steward (Frank Langella)., a man who is described as charming even though he is literally missing half of his face. A box with a big red button is delivered in the middle of the night and the next day Arlington Steward shows up with a devilish offer. Push the button and you will receive 1 million dollars but someone you do not know will die., and like any good Mary Kay type salesman there is a promotional offer – a crisp new 100.00 dollar bill to keep either way. The whole dance with the devil scenario plays out and destroys any normalcy the Lewis family enjoyed.

One thing I love about the home movie viewing experience is that you can endlessly pause movies to make snacks, make a drink ( sadly the major theater chains don’t have bars) or argue with fellow viewers about how they are completely misunderstanding the movie. The reverse of this is when you are invested in finishing a movie but so over it that you impose the “no more pausing” rule…or even worse you fast-forward. The Box got the “no more pausing” rule invoked for about the last 30-45 minutes. In he end I felt I had watched what could have been a perfectly decent episode of the Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits. A good and satisfying premise was saddled with a hour and a half of extra material and disconnected acting.