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.
This is a rather bizarre movie which doesn’t begin to flounder until the second half. The first half introduces us to Arthur Lewis (James Marsden) and his wife Norma (Cameron Diaz), and their son Walter. Arthur works as an engineer at NASA and Norma is a teacher at a private High School. The year is 1976 and they reside in Richmond, Virginia. Other than Norma’s limp, a result of losing her toes, the family’s life is pretty normal. However, the arrival of a package containing a box with a large button on the top and an enclosed card which promises a visit from a man named Arlington Steward (Frank Langella) changes their lives forever.
The premise is that if either one of them touch the button someone they don’t know will die but they will receive a million dollars. If they do nothing, the box will be collected and their lives will return to normal. One of them (I won’t give it away) hits the button more out of curiosity than anything and soon there is a steep price to pay for the money which soon arrives.
If there were some uplifting or noble theme to help salvage this movie a bit it would be nice. But there is no such theme. In fact, one of the two, Arthur or Norma (I won’t say who) must die in order to save a relative from a terrible occurrence in the film. The film is slow and plodding in the second half particularly and the explanations of the box and the man behind it just didn’t jive. I just didn’t buy into the plot and so what is intended to be an emotional impact by film’s end just simply didn’t faze me. The film leaves too much untold and goes off into some strange and unusual directions. It often shifts gears a bit suddenly.
At any rate, the language is strong and so are a few scenes of violence and we are unable to recommend this movie as a family-friendly film.