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What if someone gave you a box containing a button that, if pushed, would bring you a million dollars…but simultaneously take the life of someone you don't know? Would you do it? And what would be the consequences? The year is 1976. Norma Lewis is a teacher at a private high school and her husband, Arthur, is an engineer working at NASA. They are, by all accounts, an average couple living a normal life in the suburbs with their young son…until a mysterious man with a horribly disfigured face appears on their doorstep and presents Norma with a life-altering proposition: the box. With only 24 hours to make their choice, Norma and Arthur face an impossible moral dilemma. What they don't realize is that no matter what they decide, terrifying consequences will have already been set in motion. They soon discover that the ramifications of this decision are beyond their control and extend far beyond their own fortune and fate.]]>
Top Customer Reviews
Based on Richard Matheson's short story "Button, Button" and its 1986 "Twilight Zone" adaptation, "The Box" takes place in Richmond, Virginia in 1976, and I honestly don't know whether or not that's a significant plot point. We meet Norma and Arthur Lewis (Cameron Diaz and James Marsden), a cash-strapped suburban couple who awaken one morning to find a plainly wrapped package left at the front door. Inside is a black wooden box topped with an encased red button. Neither one knows what to make of it until receiving a visit from the mysterious Arlington Steward (Frank Langella), who, for as yet unknown reasons, is missing the left side of his face. If the Lewis' decide to unlock the box and push the button, he explains, two things will happen: They will be given $1 million dollars in cash, and someone they don't know will die.
Will one of them push the button? It's not as if they couldn't use the money.Read more ›
The story is taken form an ironic little gem of a story by Richard Matheson (of TWILIGHT ZONE fame) called "Button, Button." The movie expands it into a Gordian Knot of obscure, seemingly unrelated events that inevitably, well... you'll see.
The central theme is altruism, which is basically the practical application of the Golden Rule (you know, do unto others as you would have them do unto you). The basic equation is that if enough people choose selfishness, eventually no one will be left. Yet I'm amazed by all the diverse interpretations and reviews, especially since the substance of the story is clearly stated at one point as the "altruism coefficient," that is, unless people learn to be altruistic they will either destroy each other or be destroyed by the mysterious extraterrestrials. A not uncommon sci-fi theme, but presented here as a brilliantly enigmatic and ominous fable that is never boring, but rather, perplexing and mesmerizing. It may have been more popular as a dark comedy, but then it would have lost much of its impact.
Unfortunately however, when a story is presented as enigmatically as this, people tend to see what they want to see, like the reviewer who totally misinterpreted it as a "scathing attack on altruism," quoting Ayn Rand's absurd, distorted definition of it. (Ayn Rand, the master of rationalization of the selfish and self-serving, nursed a lifelong disdain of altruism and empathy. Her books rationalize and justify selfishness, opportunism and exploitation, and still inspire those who exalt such traits.Read more ›
The Box is based on a 1970 short story "Button, Button" by Richard Matheson (also the author of the celebrated "I Am Legend"). A financially overextended middle class couple receives a package containing a box with a button. A strange and grossly disfigured man later visits their house and explains should they choose to press the button, they will receive $1mil, tax free. The drawback? Someone they do not know will die. The couple's actions following the man's visit, as well as the consequences of their actions, constitute the meat of the story. The why's and the who's are mostly explained, though some questions are purposefully left for each viewer's imagination to tackle. The performance is satisfactory from all leads, except Cameron Diaz. She overacts in every scene, to the point of becoming a distraction. Her casting played a major part in my downgrading the rating to 3.5 stars.
If you feel you can ignore Diaz and focus on every word of dialogue, you will be rewarded with some original thinking and a somewhat creepy film. I was entertained.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good film by good director. Would've been nice if supplier sent me US copy like shown rather than Canadian copy with French and English cover...Published 19 days ago by Dreamspore
This is a very interesting movie that explores morality.
People are given a choice between taking a random person's life and receiving a huge amount of money, or just... Read more
Absolutely brilliant. Watch it again and then again to get it all, to take it all in. This film is meant for a certain type of audience, and is probably not for you.Published 3 months ago by Ken Oconnell
The box was cut and damaged. The DVD was not in the clips and is scratched up. I'm not at all satisfied with this purchase.Published 4 months ago by Megan B.
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