The Box

November 22, 2009 - Imagine the doorbell awakens you from a sound sleep. Curious, you answer the door, only to find a box wrapped in plain paper on the doorstep. You open the box and, inside, find another box with a button on top. The next day, a stranger shows up at your house and promises that, if you press the button, he will give you one million dollars. The catch? Someone you don't know will die. What would you do? Does it matter that the stranger who made the offer is missing half of his face?

That's the scenario that confronts Cameron Diaz and James Marsden in this film set in late 1976. Diaz and Marsden play Norma and Arthur Lewis. They live in Richmond, where he works for NASA and she teaches at a private school. Arthur owns a Corvette which, I suppose, is one reason why the couple and their son live paycheck to paycheck. Their financial struggles are about to be compounded because Arthur gets rejected by the astronaut program and Norma learns that the faculty discount she gets on her son's tuition is being taken away. So, when Frank Langella shows up with his half a face and his million-dollar offer, the couple has a decision to make.

Overall review: ** I'm giving this film two stars because it's certainly not good enough for three but it's not bad enough for one. What it is, mostly, is weird. The initial setup is fine, but once Norma and Arthur make their decision, really bizarre things start to happen – not the least of which is Santa showing up in the middle of an intersection.

I guess what bothers me most is that a lot of what happens in this movie, such as the Santa episode, happens without explanation. For instance, Arthur gets rejected by the astronaut program on the basis that he failed his psychological test. The news stuns his bosses and, to me, Arthur seems like a pretty stable guy. So, what's the deal? That's a question I asked myself more than once. What's the deal with The Box? I don't know. If you figure it out, let me know.