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The Box Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Push the button, Max. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 38

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    The characters in The Box are like cardboard cutouts: Some have "foolish victim" labeled on them, and others fall into the category of absurdly creepy villain.

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  • 38

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    The pacing throughout is languid. Your eye becomes fixated on the hideous 70s wallpaper behind them. If only the story's interstellar narrative developments had the intensity of that wallpaper. Rod Serling might've gotten a great hour out of it (the story, that is, not the wallpaper). It simply is not two hours' worth, no matter how many quantum leaps into the unknown Kelly takes.

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  • 40

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    An artistic fiasco that cuts across genre lines and all logic to become, perhaps, an instant midnight movie.

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  • 42

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    It's no coincidence that The Box plays like the world's murkiest Twilight Zone episode. It's loosely based on ''Button, Button,'' a short story by Richard Matheson, who wrote some of the series' greatest scripts.

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  • 63

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    Despite its flaws, The Box remains intriguing; however, as its mysteries are solved, the prevailing sense is one of frustration rather than satisfaction. That makes The Box worthy of the dubious label of "an interesting failure."

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    This movie kept me involved and intrigued, and for that I'm grateful. I'm beginning to wonder whether, in some situations, absurdity might not be a strength.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 13+

Creepy thriller too confusing for kids, awful for adults.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this Cameron Diaz thriller from the director of Donnie Darko is based on a macabre premise: that human beings would rather win money than protect a stranger's life. It's too confusing and intense for tweens and young teens, and, in addition to the cloud of violence hovering over the entire movie, there are several disturbing images, including an upsetting disfigurement; two women being killed at close range; people who have eerie, unexpected nosebleeds; a fatal car accident; and gun violence. The swearing is fairly mild (one use of "s--t" is as strong as it gets), the sexuality is limited to the main couple kissing passionately and embracing, and the drinking is mostly social and done by adults. Still, most kids won't want to bother figuring out the movie's dark themes and puzzling plot.

  • Families can talk about what the movie's experiment says about human nature. Is money more important than a stranger's life?
  • What would have you done given the same choice? Was what happened after the characters "hit the button" predictable?
  • Do movies have to be believable or relatable to be entertaining?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Despite the movie's overwhelmingly negative message about humans being more selfish than selfless, Norma and Arthur's actions ultimately prove that as parents, at least, they have enough unconditional love for their child to be completely self-sacrificing.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: Despite their decision to hit the "button unit," Norma and Arthur are repentant and remorseful about their actions and go to great lengths to try to right their wrongs. They never spend any of the money they "won" and instead try to track down the many mysteries surrounding the strange offer they were given.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: The entire movie is based on a violent premise: Couples must decide whether to sentence someone they don't know to death and win $1 million or to pass up the lucrative offer. There's also gun violence, scenes that feature two dead women, a kidnapped child, and other bizarre, disturbing goings on. One of the main characters is horribly disfigured in the face, and another protagonist is missing almost all of the toes on her foot. Characters often have strange nose bleeds and act creepily in general.

  • sex false2

    Sex: A married couple embraces several times, exchanges longing looks, and kisses passionately.

  • language false2

    Language: On the milder side -- one use of "s--t," plus "hell," "damn," "stupid," and "Jesus" used as an exclamation.

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: Corvette, Jack Daniels, and JVC are all seen.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Adults drink wine, cocktails, and champagne at a rehearsal dinner and reception. Arthur says he "needs a drink" and has a glass of whisky.