Booze Revooze: A Drinker’s Skewed Review of THE BOX

The Box - poster

i Saw Cameron Diaz's Box Before You

[Click here for a guide to Booze Revooze and the rating system used]

From the soundtrack / in the Juiced-box: The Marshall Tucker Band – Can’t You See

[Press ‘Play’ to jam]

[Author’s note 2009/11/05: i can’t freaking believe it! Here in Yeman i got to see another film before the US release! (The first was The Descent: Part 2.) Sure, this one was only one day early, but still, i gotta take these little sips of pleasure wherever i can find them. Anyway, enjoy this sneak peak review…]

Ramblings: Thinking Inside The Box

Final Proof: 3 Shots

3 shotsYou know how you drink with that weirdo intellectual who sometimes takes himself too seriously? He’s cool but the more you get your buzz on, the more you’re ready to bail and hang out with mousy cute girls who aren’t old enough to drink legally yet. The smart guy says some really interesting things, things that make you think, but sometimes he’s way out there and other times he’s so far over your head you get a nosebleed. You usually end up having a better time than you think you will but there’s no way you’re gonna invite him over every time you go on a bender. The Box is like that.

Richard Kelly, nursing a cult reputation ever since Donnie Darko, should enjoy the same success with The Box. Those who liked DD, or anyone who wonders what it would be like if David Lynch directed a Twilight Zone episode, will get a kick out of The Box. Kelly’s directing has certainly matured; he handles the ‘period piece’ aspects with style (the film is set in 1976) and the clips we glimpse on the TV from time to time are trippy and poignant enough to make anyone born before 1970 nostalgic. He also does a good job balancing the freaky/brainy stuff with the fun/action stuff. Despite a couple scenes that drag a little toward the end, the pacing is nice and the intensity builds as the story develops.

There’s also the Kelly ‘feel’, present in Darko as well. His style is to make a new movie look old, like he’s shooting through a time lens, and it works for him here because it makes the film look as though it was actually made in the ’70’s.

The film stars Cameron Diaz who does her best Olsen Twin impression with her style and who tries on a ‘Southern’ (from Virginia) accent that everybody’s gonna start dissing because the world is full of haters, but is truly cute and endearing. You go, Cameron. You go, girl.

The story is also interesting. The original short story “Button, Button” by Richard Matheson was made into a Twilight Zone episode of the same name in 1986, but the movie goes way beyond the stopping points of both these. Kelly added to the screenplay and while he got a little carried away with the ‘woo woo’ stuff, his effort is pretty solid.

Speaking of the writing, here’s a deleted scene that featured me, Al K Hall, at the beginning of the film:

Scene, interior, The Bar None. Al K Hall sits at a booth in the back with Arlington Steward across from him. Arlington places The Box on the table between them, next to the fifth of mescal Al is drinking from.

Arlington: If you press this button, you will receive, in cash, the sum of one million dollars but

Al slaps at button.

Arlington: Please, sir! You get a million dollars–

Al slaps at button.

Arlington: [exasperated] Pay close attention to me. You will not receive the stipend until you hear everything I have to say, so your insistence on pressing the button is superfulous.

As I was saying, you will be given a briefcase with one million dollars [pauses; Al holds palm over the button at the ready] BUT someone, somewhere in the world will die.

Al smacks the button down.

Al: Fork it over, Scarface.

Arlington: It is someone whom you have never met.

Al smacks the button three times.

Al: Does that mean i get three million dollars now?

Al commences pressing button repeatedly.

Yeah, The Box is a pleasant surprise even for those of us who think checkers with vodka shots is the height of intellectual stimulation.

Buzz Kills (Watch Out for Spoilers)

Sex: 2 Shots

2 shotsi’d so love to give this more sex credit but the problem is Cameron Diaz stays overdressed for the entire movie. Even a scene when she’s wearing a white sweater and gets soaked to the skin is cut way short. Oh well; she really earned the two shots i’m giving the film because she could even make a cheerleader uniform sexy — wait, that is sexy — well, she could make something totally not sexy, sexy. i’ll just shut up now…

Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz drunk

From The Last Time She Stopped By The Bar None

There was also Gillian Jacobs who got the coveted role of Dana The Babysitter. Or is it just the babysitter part that’s coveted. Hell if i know…

Gillian Jacobs

Gillian Jacobs

Here are the Silken Butterflies: you know, those beautiful and talented girls who grace the screen with their splendor during their oh so fleeting appearances on film.

Jenna Lamia played a dead body. Her performance was death defying. Can you believe she went uncredited!?

Jenna Lamia

Credit Where Credit's Due

Allyssa Maurice also shined for a moment on screen as Suzanne Weller.

Allyssa Maurice

Click On The Photo For Her Website

A Smoke

Drink: 2 Shots

2 shotsWhat’s here isn’t super original but at least there are drinks and drink references, especially with the husband (James Marsden as Arthur Lewis). There are drinks at the rehearsal dinner (Cameron drinks champagne, James goes for whiskey, neat) and as Arthur’s drama develops, he drinks more and more often. So, yeah, you gotta say the movie was pretty realistic. He also cuts out of the wedding early to scarf down some champagne, but that’s a pretty normal thing to do. i mean, you don’t have to be super stressed by lightning struck freaks with half their face melted off to the point you can see their teeth through their cheek to wanna get an early start celebrating at a boring ass wedding.

Whiskey neat

A Smoke

Rock & Roll: ½ Shot

1-2 shot

The only real rock we get comes during a reception at a wedding rehearsal dinner/dance where middle aged hipsters dance to Marshall Tucker’s “Can’t You See” and Derek & The Dominos’ “Bell Bottom Blues”. i stuck the Tucker at the top of this post so here are the Dominos from the Juiced-box:

[Just press ‘Play’]

Boring Technical Crap

Written by: Richard Kelly

Based on: The short story “Button, Button” by Richard Matheson

Directed by: Richard Kelly


Cameron Diaz – Norma Lewis

Gillian Jacobs – Dana

Allyssa Maurice – Suzanne Weller

Jenna Lamia – Dead Wife

James Marsden – Arthur Lewis

Frank Langella – Arlington Steward

Bottom Line

See it only if you don’t expect too much.

7 thoughts on “Booze Revooze: A Drinker’s Skewed Review of THE BOX

  1. “(the film is set in 1975)”

    I remember seeing 1976 at the beginning of the movie, but quibbling about a year seems silly when the rest of the review is so accurate.

    I LOVE the comparison intro to this one — very true! Yeah, this movie is that guy. I liked this less than Darko. I think it could have been tightened up a little and been more effective. I think what is also necessary is a Cliff’s Notes (which are now SparkNotes, I learned not long ago) primer, a kind of Philosophy 101companion to this movie as I *know* it is demonstrating a lot of principles in modern philosophy, but hell if I could really understand what they were. The Sartre parts of it are of course obvious — a little heavy-handed even, but I am curious about some of the other things that happened in the film which have a philosophical basis and which might explain what the hell was going on.

    Also, who is the guy who played Cameron Diaz’s husband in the movie? I liked him. He was cute, too. I think he deserves credit in the credits line up you have up there as well.

    • Thanks for the compliments, Sweetness. You were right about the year the movie was set, i’ve gone back in and made the corrections. i must be even more near-sighted than we knew, which is scary in and of itself!

      Al K Hall

  2. One would have to be quite creative to make a full movie out of a tired premise that would only rate a movie segment elsewhere. I do love Darko, but that was slightly more complex. That being said, you know my politics enough that I would take your deleted scene a step further and demand that someone drop dead EVERY time I pressed the button (and he could keep the money, but then again, it might get one or two of my creditors off my back). I sound rather homicidal there, but statistically someone will drop dead every time I’d press that button whether I was the cause or not, but they are replaced even quicker than they are dying. So here is the deal, let death go on as it normally would, but every time I press the button someone in NOT born. Maybe that would even things out.

    • The statistical thing was exactly what i was thinking. i mean, people i don’t know are going to die all the time, no matter what you do with the button.

      If you liked Darko, you’d probably like this. Kelly makes a full movie out of the concept by going to the ‘complex’ place. A little too much for me, but then i found he went too complex in Darko as well.

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