Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Movie a Day, Day 73: The Box on The Box

Springsteen’s song about 57 channels and nothing to watch was playing in my head last night as I rounded through my favorites on the remote control. Not that there wasn’t anything good to watch—the season premiere of Mad Men and the latest episode of True Blood, my favorite soap, were waiting in the DVR queue, and when they were done I stumbled on the second half of the always awesome Clueless. But when I searched for a movie to watch from the start, the best I came up with was The Box, a long shot that didn’t pay off.

I’ve avoided The Box since it came out last year because the blurbs on the home page of Rotten Tomatoes (which, I now think, summed it up nicely) didn’t make it sound like something I’d like. I’m not even a Richard Kelly fan, though I know there are a lot of them out there (or there used to be, anyhow): I haven’t yet seen Donnie Darko and I found Southland Tales inchoate, choppy and ultimately forgettable. But the premise to this one had promise, in a comfortingly hokey kind of way. Norma (Cameron Diaz) and Arthur (James Marsden) get a chance to transform their lives, but at what price? A mysterious stranger shows up with a box that contains a big button. Push the button, they’re told, and they’ll get a millions dollars—but someone they don’t know will die. It’s a classic Twilight Zone dilemma—in fact, the short story it was based on was made into a Twilight Zone episode in the mid-‘80s.

The faint hope of seeing a new spin on an old-fashioned moral allegory kept me interested enough for the first half hour or so, though there were warning signs from the start. Read the rest on The House Next Door, Slant Magazine's blog.

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