On the Big Board
|What starts off as a creepy and promising premise is almost immediately subverted by the overbearing score and Diaz's accent, followed by an out of this world plot development that offers nothing to
Imagine you’re a 25-year-old kid straight out of USC film school. You make your first feature, which picks up a number of festival awards and becomes a massive cult hit. Buoyant and gleeful, you wait six years to make the perfect follow-up but it bombs with every critic and only makes enough money to buy a couple of Extra Value Meals at McDonald's.
Given this conundrum, what would you do next?
I know! I know! You’d set out to make a low-budget horror film inspired by an episode of The Twilight Zone with some big name stars – the exact kind of movie that is likely to make its money back very quickly and bring you friends once again at the studios.
Enter Richard Kelly, writer/director of Donnie Darko (great film) and Southland Tales (not so much). Working both from the aforementioned Twilight Zone episode and the original 1970 short story, Button, Button, by Richard Matheson, Kelly has crafted a supernatural thriller about a couple that receives a mysterious box with an even more mysterious button. Push it and they’ll receive a million dollars. The catch? Someone they don’t know, somewhere around the world, will die.
Bringing this plot to life (which uncannily reminds me of a certain Treehouse of Horror episode of The Simpsons) will be Cameron Diaz, fresh off the success of What Happens In Vegas, and resident Man Candy, James Mardsen, who seems cast in movies just to provide the females in the audience with something sorta pretty to look at. In a strange bit of casting, delivery of the foreboding box will not be done not by FedEx but by accomplished stage actor, Frank Langella.
With a $30 million budget, it shouldn’t take too much for WB and Kelly to call this a success. Though we should all pray that The Box isn’t THAT successful. If it makes too much money, come Summer 2009 we might see an inane gameshow rip-off by Fox entitled, “So You Think You’re Smarter Than a 5th Grader Pushing This Button at The Moment of Truth.” (Jason Lee/BOP)