The word on the street is that David Fincher’s new Brad Pitt vehicle, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, (due for October release) is experiencing a tumultuous post-production process. Supposedly, the studio is worried that the film, now reportedly running two hours and forty-three minutes, is too long. And, according to some who have attended preview screenings, the last couple of hours are squirm-inducing.
(On an unrelated note, it’s just occurred to me that the title I created for this piece could be easily misconstrued as something highly inappropriate. I’m sort of surprised I’m just now catching that. Oh well, if The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a big hit at the multiplexes, then maybe shortly after you’ll see The Curious Length of Benjamin Button on the gay porn new release wall at your local neighborhood gay porn store.)
But I digress.
I think Anne Thompson is wrong when she asserts that length hurt Fincher’s previous film, Zodiac. It wasn’t Zodiac‘s length that subdued the box office. It was the fact that, despite what all the critics said, Zodiac just wasn’t all that great. It wasn’t a bad movie by any means, and for anyone who is a movie buff (and a fan of films like All the President’s Men) it’s a nice ride through retro-land. But its story is wholly lacking in emotional punch by the time you get to the last third. In fact, I felt like something was missing by the time I reached the end. Jake Gyllenhaal’s character got obsessed too deeply and too quickly to be believable, and the movie lost me.
Zodiac is one of the latest theatrical releases to draw my ire lately for being a film that didn’t seem long enough. It seems there are an increasing number of directors these days who are perfectly willing to sacrifice the emotional center of a movie in favor of keeping it as close to ninety minutes as possible (I’m looking at you Steven Soderbergh). I haven’t seen the director’s cut of Zodiac yet, but I am curious to see if the added material makes the ending less dull.
Having said all of that, at this point, you must assume that Fincher is still in the process of making Benjamin Button a final product. I will be very surprised if the final version of the movie comes in at two hours and forty-three minutes. (I’m guessing it’ll be more like two hours and fifteen minutes–maybe two and a half hours.)
I’m sure Fincher’s been walking around at the preview screenings and taking note of when the audience is getting restless, and then going back to the editing room looking for things to cut. Even though Fincher hasn’t made a film that’s connected with me since Se7en and Fight Club, I have high hopes for Benjamin Button. So I hope he doesn’t look too hard.
You can view a trailer for Benjamin Button that aired during the Olympics below, courtesy of our friends at Trailer Addict: