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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button [2008] [PG-13] - 7.6.5



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Unlike the MPAA we do not assign one inscrutable rating based on age, but 3 objective ratings for SEX/NUDITY, VIOLENCE/GORE and PROFANITY on a scale of 0 to 10, from lowest to highest, depending on quantity and context.

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Sex & Nudity
Violence & Gore
1 to 10


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Adapted from the story by F. Scott Fitzgerald about the life of a man (Brad Pitt) who ages in reverse: He is born as an old man and as he grows he becomes a boy and then an infant. Also with Cate Blanchett, Jason Flemyng, Taraji P. Henson, Julia Ormond, Ed Metzger, Lance E. Nichols, Peter Donald Badalamenti, Donna Duplantier, Patrick Holland, Tilda Swinton, Elle Fanning and Elias Koteas. Directed by David Fincher. [2:47]

SEX/NUDITY 7 - We see rapid rhythmic movement under covers and a man and a woman are shown in bed; the woman rolls over and it is implied that they have had sex numerous times. A man and a woman kiss, they go through a hotel room door (still kissing), they close the door and it is implied they have sex (this happens many times).
 A woman asks a man to sleep with her, they kiss, she undresses, we see her bare leg, he climbs on top of her and sex is implied. A young man and an older woman kiss and caress each other (it is implied that they have sex), she dresses and leaves (we see her bare back as she pulls on her stockings). A man and woman lie in bed together and it is implied that they have sex a lot. A woman lies in a bed, a man comes into the room, they kiss and lie back (sex is implied).
 A man and a woman sleep in bed together (his bare chest and her bare shoulders are visible). A woman kisses a man, wraps her leg around his waist and tries to seduce him (he declines the invitation).
 A woman asks a man if he had been with many women, he touches her hand, and they kiss. A man kisses several different women. A man and a woman dance and kiss, and another man watches and appears jealous.
 A nude man stands outside a home and raises a flag (we see his bare buttocks, legs and back). A man and a woman swim nude (we see bare buttocks and his bare chest). A woman says to a man that she can imagine dancing completely naked, and she dances on a stage and raises her leg (her skirt slips up to reveal bare leg to the hip). A woman wears a low-cut dress that reveals cleavage and she and a man flirt. We see a man in a bathtub (his bare shoulders and chest and legs are seen). Several scantily clad women (we see cleavage, bare legs and backs) are shown in a saloon. We see a woman wearing a robe and her bra is visible. A man takes off his shirt and drops his pants (we see his bare chest and underwear and a bulge is evident at the groin). We see women in ballet costumes (bare legs and cleavage are visible).
 A man talks about "things growing, like hair and other things" -- he is in a bathtub and we see hair in his armpits, we hear a sound in the water, he looks down and it is implied that he has an erection. A woman takes a man by the hand and leads him away (we understand that she is a prostitute and that they are going to have sex).
 A man talks about a woman being the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. A man asks another man when was the last time he "had" a woman and he replies, "Never." A woman says that many of the ballet dancers in her troupe are lesbians. A girl says that she saw her mother kissing a man.

VIOLENCE/GORE 6 - We see a man with many bloody bullet holes in his chest (blood pours from the holes, he has blood in his mouth and he dies).
 During a naval battle a ship is blasted by another ship from a distance, men are struck and die (blood spurts), and the ship that's been attacked speeds toward a submarine, crashes into it and there is a huge explosion. We see many navy vessels sinking and in flames and many dead bodies in the water and we hear that a ship was cut in half by a submarine. We see a battlefield sequence that shows many young men being shot and killed (blood is not evident). Two men fight and wrestle in a couple of scenes.
 A woman is struck by a car (we see her lying on the ground and her leg is twisted). A man has a heart attack and drops to the ground holding his chest (he dies). A blanket is placed over the face of an infant and it is implied that the baby died.
 We see a woman in a bed and the bedclothes are soaked in blood after she has delivered a child (the woman dies). A pregnant woman falls down a flight of stairs, we see blood on the floor, she screams that the baby is coming, and we hear moaning. A woman sits dead in a chair (her eyes are open), a man grieves and a dog cries. We see a dead man in a coffin. Several scenes show dead bodies being taken away from a retirement home and people talk about people dying.
 A man walking down stairs accidentally steps on an infant wrapped in a blanket on one of the steps (the baby cries but is not injured). We see a woman in a hospital bed in many scenes, she breathes heavily, and we understand that she is dying.
 A woman struggles to breathe while talking in a hospital bed and asks for more pain medication. After being struck by a car we see a woman in a hospital with bandages and a badly bruised face.
 A doctor examines an infant and says that he has arthritis, cataracts and says that "some babies are not meant to survive." A man is described as a pygmy and we see that he has pointed teeth. A husband and wife receive news that their only son has been killed in war. We hear that a girl's little brother died of lung problems. We are told that a man died of a broken heart after his son died. We hear about someone coming home from a war "legless." We hear that 1328 men died in a naval attack. A man talks about a tribe of cannibals and that his wife was eaten by them. We hear that a man died. A man talks about being placed in a cage with apes in a zoo and performing for audiences. We are told that a woman cannot have children and that her "insides are all twisted up." A woman is told that another woman "messed herself."
 A man talks in several scenes about being struck by lightning seven times and each time we see him being struck under different circumstances (he always falls to the ground and there's a bit of smoke, but he's OK). A man falls to the floor when he tries to stand up from his wheelchair (he's OK).
 After his wife dies in childbirth, a man grabs the child and runs out of the house, stops at a river and seems to be planning to throw the child in but he is stopped by a security officer; he then runs to a house and leaves the child on the steps.
 A man is nearly struck by a car. A man has many tattoos on his body. A man vomits (we see goo and hear him gag) after drinking a lot of alcohol. We see people bathing and washing in dirty water in India. A man flatulates.
 A hurricane bears down on New Orleans and we hear winds beating on windows and power flickering in a hospital.

PROFANITY 5 - 2 F-words, 5 scatological terms, 1 anatomical term, 7 mild obscenities, name-calling (boy, fat), 3 religious profanities, 8 religious exclamations. [profanity glossary]

SUBSTANCE USE - A man drinks alcohol in a bar where others also drink, a man and a woman drink vodka, and people drink alcohol with dinner. A man smokes a cigarette in bed, a man smokes cigarettes in many scenes, people smoke cigarettes in several bar and brothel scenes and rooms are smoke-filled, a woman smokes cigarettes in several scenes, and a woman smokes a cigarette in a hospital and is told she cannot.

DISCUSSION TOPICS - Life, death, aging, love, disappointment, old age homes, family, faith, miracles, loneliness, fear, being different, fate, dementia, kismet, dreams, lost dreams, romance, Pearl Harbor, longing, freedom, pacifism.

MESSAGE - Family is what you make of it. Live life to its fullest, and never pass up an opportunity to experience something new. Nothing lasts. It's never too late to be who you want to be. Live a life you are proud of or have the strength to start again.

Special Keywords: S7 - V6 - P5 - MPAAPG-13

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A CAVEAT: We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and some of our early standards were not as stringent as they are now. We therefore need to revisit many older reviews, especially those written prior to 1998 or so; please keep this in mind if you're consulting a review from that period. While we plan to revisit and correct older reviews our resources are limited and it is a slow, time-consuming process.

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