Box, The
PG-13
Entertainment: +1
Acceptability: -3

Cameron Diaz, James Marsden, Frank Langella. Thriller. Written & directed by Richard Kelly.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Norma and Arthur Lewis are a suburban couple with a young child who receive an anonymous gift bearing fatal and irrevocable consequences. A simple wooden box, it promises to deliver its owner $1 million with the press of a button. However, pressing this button will simultaneously cause the death of another human being somewhere in the world…someone they don’t know. With just 24 hours to have the box in their possession, Norma and Arthur find themselves in the crosshairs of a startling moral dilemma and face the true nature of their humanity.

PREVIEW REVIEW: I find it hard to relate to the leads. Like many in our country, I could use an extra income and the thought of having a million bucks, tax free, is a pleasant fantasy. But I’m not going to take someone’s life for it. So, I can’t figure why this is up for debate between the film’s two leads. On the other hand, I can see how it could be an interesting premise, especially now when financial security seems to be a thing of the past for the majority of people on this planet. The film could have been a solid morality tale dealing with the subject – what would you be willing to sacrifice for $1,000,000. Instead, a sci-fi, special effects-laden subplot is interwoven, with the tempters being beings from another world, somehow able to get inside our heads, much like the pod people from Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

They “test” people, evidently looking for some Earthling who places the lives of others above their own financial gain. Remember The Day the Earth Stood Still, when space aliens informed us that if we didn’t do away with our nuclear weapons, they’d destroy us? Well, today’s extraterrestrials are taking it a step further. Now they are governing our morals. The threat of annihilation is still there, but on a more personal basis.

The premise held promise and I congratulate those involved for wanting to attempt what must have seemed like a sci-fi drama for grownups. Alas, nothing works. Not Ms. Diaz’ Southern Belle accent, nor Ms. Diaz for that matter. I usually like a slow-placed, Twilight Zone-like story, but this one is terminally long and insults the memory of Rod Serling, who knew how to address fifth dimension, ethereal messages with a slight-of-hand, macabre tone. Gauging by the snickers as the plot and acting choices became more outrageous, I’m assuming the screening audience is in agreement that this lacks the impact it should.

Try my DVD Alternative for a trenchant sci-fi/fantasy parable: A Matter of Life and Death (Stairway To Heaven). A four-star production in glorious, and I mean glorious color, starring David Niven and Kim Hunter. This 1946 romantic fantasy concerns a WWII pilot who claims he was accidentally chosen to die and must plead his cause before a celestial court. Made by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, it is one of the best films I ever saw.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures/Radar Pictures

Summary
Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: None
Profanity: Five or six profane uses of Christ’s name. Interesting, there are no other swear words and it is a film with an attempt at moralizing, yet the male lead utters Jesus’ name several times, never actually calling on the Savior for help, just using his name as a release of frustration and fear.
Violence: A couple of shootings, and two killings of loved ones in order to save other loved ones; several jolting moments and an overall feeling of dread. Blood: At some point, everybody bleeds at the nose.
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: Some social drinking and a couple of scenes where alcohol is used to relieve stress.
Other: None
Running Time: 120 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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