I was watching “The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons” last night and early on it struck me how similar it was to “Forrest Gump”. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great movie and I DO recommend it, but I’ve seen Forrest Gump at least 10 times and I found the recurring sense of deja vu to be distracting.
You shouldn’t read on if you haven’t seen the movie.
1. Each man has trouble walking, in his early years.
2. Both go off to war during part of the story’s arc.
3. A bench plays a recurring role in the move.
4. He begins his life in a boarding house, and later on ends up living out the rest of his life in same boarding house, with much adventure and travel in between.
5. It’s set in the south, and his deep southern drawl underscores his simple yet profound observations.
6. Lieutenant Dan and Bubba are combined in the singular character of the tugboat captain. It’s mainly Lt. Dan, but like Bubba, the tugboat captain is Benjamin’s closest friend for a while, and the Captain dies by Benjamin’s side after being shot in the war.
7. Benjamin loses his virginity to a prostitute, his first kiss isn’t until many years later. Forrest’s first kiss is a prostitute (she tastes like cigarettes!) and he doesn’t lose his virginity until much later.
8. He is unable to be with his one true love throughout much of his life because of the handicap that he’s born with. It’s not his fault, it’s not her fault.
9. Tom Hanks and Sally fields played lovers in a prior movie, and played mother and son in Gump. Brad Pitt and Julia Ormond played lovers in a prior movie, and played father and daughter in Buttons.
10. There’s a scene where a truck is waiting for a hitchhiking Jenny to get in, and the driver is honking his horn impatiently while Jenny tries to say goodbye to Forrest, telling the driver to wait. A similar scene plays out in Buttons, where Daisy has a cab waiting for her and her friend is impatiently urging her to hurry while she says goodbye to Benjamin. She’s also making a choice in that scene by getting into the vehicle.
11. There’s also a scene with him watching her through the upstairs window as she gets into a cab and rides out of his life.
12. His early years are filled with rejection while his mother helps him see past it all.
13. There’s a recurring absence of one parent theme throughout the movie.
14. A hummingbird gently buzzes into Benjamin’s world, he’s the only one who notices it. It represents his gently drifting through the events of his life, and shows up again later in the film. For Forrest Gump, it’s a feather.
15. At some point he introduces all his war comrades one by one by their quirky little names.
16. Daisy wants to dance, and is tugged along by her desire for that. Jenny wants to sing.
17. Both characters spend a lot of time working on a boat.
18. Significant historical events play out in various ways throughout the movie to indicate the passage of time, and their place in it.
19. At some point, both characters come into a great deal of money through luck, and yet they earned it.
20. You have to suspend your belief about one major thing in each movie. In Buttons, it’s the aging backwards thing. In Gump, it’s his presence in so many historical events.