Advertisement

Movie Mom

Movie Mom

The Box

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some violence and disturbing images
Profanity:Some strong language
Nudity/Sex:None
Alcohol/Drugs:Social drinking, smoking
Violence/Scariness:Very disturbing images and situtations, characters injured and killed, guns, sci-fi peril and violence
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:November 6, 2009
C
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some violence and disturbing images
Profanity: Some strong language
Nudity/Sex: None
Alcohol/Drugs: Social drinking, smoking
Violence/Scariness: Very disturbing images and situtations, characters injured and killed, guns, sci-fi peril and violence
Diversity Issues: None
Movie Release Date: November 6, 2009

I loved “Donnie Darko” and was eager to listen to the DVD commentary by writer/director Richard Kelly. But I had to turn it off after the first ten minutes. Kelly explained too much, and his explanations were so mundane they detracted from the film’s intriguing ambiguities. After the fascinating but incoherent “Southland Tales,” Kelly shifts back toward explaining too much in “The Box, based on a short story by Richard Matheson and its adaptation as an episode of “The Twilight Zone.”

Amid the meticulously re-created details of the 1976 Richmond, Virginia setting (harvest gold, maxi coats), a loving couple feeling some financial pressure are presented with a moral dilemma. Early one morning just before Christmas, a plain brown package is left on their doorstep with an elegant note informing them that Mr. Steward (Frank Langella) will be there at 5. Inside the package is a box with a red button covered by a locked glass dome.

Advertisement

Norma (Cameron Diaz) and Arthur (James Marsden) go to work, where each receives bad news. Norma teaches English at a private school. Just after her class on Sartre’s “No Exit,” she is informed that the school will no longer be able to subsidize her son’s tuition, a severe financial blow. And Arthur, who (like Kelly’s father) designs lenses for a Mars explorer, learns that his application to the astronaut program has been turned down.

Norma is home alone when Mr. Steward arrives. His appearance is shocking. The lower left quarter of his face has been sheered off by some massive trauma, so devastating we can see not only sinew but teeth through what once was his cheek. His message is shocking, too. He gives Norma a key to open the glass dome and tells her that if she pushes the red button within 24 hours someone she does not know will die and she will receive one million dollars in cash, tax-free.

Advertisement

“Maybe it’s a baby,” says Arthur. “Maybe it’s a man on death row,” says Norma. Arthur, the engineer, takes the box apart. There’s nothing inside. Rationally, it seems impossible that the offer could be real. They go back and forth. And then, as much to end the agony of uncertainty as anything else, one of them impulsively hits it. And then things really go haywire in the lives of Arthur and Norma and pretty much in the movie, too.

Advertisement

Kelly knows how to create a mood of claustrophobic dread and how to create stunning images. Back in those pre-Google days, people had to do research in the stacks of a library, and Kelly makes those scenes look both retro and chilling. But there is nothing to approach the best moments in “Donnie Darko,” the Sparkle Motion dance number to “Notorious,” the motivational speaker, the controversy over the story taught in school, the riff on the Smurfs. Like the box with the button, it is enticing on the surface but inside it is empty.

  • jestrfyl

    The ads have intrigued me. I THOUGHT the story seemed familiar. That you gave it a B- is telling – I thought it might have been less of a work because they are pushing it so har. I appreciate your preview of this movie. It has convinced me that even though I would like to see, but I think I can wait for the DVD.

Previous Posts

Trailer: Glitch
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z736c3pXb7w ...

posted 8:00:39am Jul. 05, 2015 | read full post »

Tonight on PBS: A Capitol Fourth with Barry Manilow, Hunter Hayes, and KC and the Sunshine Band
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IQqWgdF1z0[/youtube] Tune in tonight to watch A Capitol Fourth on PBS, featuring Barry Manilow, Hunter Hayes, KC and the Sunshine Band, Alabama, and Lang Lang, and hosted by Bradley Whitford. And ...

posted 12:00:57pm Jul. 04, 2015 | read full post »

Marvin Gaye Sings the Star Spangled Banner
Happy 4th of July! [vimeo]https://vimeo.com/34606761[/vimeo] ...

posted 8:38:56am Jul. 04, 2015 | read full post »

The Declaration of Independence -- Happy 4th of July!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETroXvRFoKY ...

posted 7:00:25am Jul. 04, 2015 | read full post »

For the 4th of July: Singing Founding Fathers in "1776"
Happy Independence Day!  Every year, I recommend the rousing musical about the Declaration of Independence. "1776" makes the Founding Fathers vivid, human, and interesting characters, and is so involving that you almost forget that you already ...

posted 8:00:01am Jul. 03, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.