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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Jon Stewart on 'Benjamin Button': Wake me up when it's over!

February 4, 2009 |  2:31 pm

Do former Oscar hosts get to vote for the Academy Awards? Well, they certainly have a megaphone, especially if you're "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart, who made his preferences clear on last night's program. Introducing his guest, "Slumdog Millionaire" star Dev Patel, at the top of the show, Stewart heaped praise on "Slumdog," exclaiming "Now that's a film! That is a film!" But it's hard to imagine that Paramount's "Benjamin Button" Oscar team, who keep buying all those endless sheafs of full-page ads in the N.Y. Times, were happy about what happened next.

As Stewart put it, "Slumdog" was "much better than some of those other 'critically acclaimed' films I could name, like 'The Curious Case of Benjamin....' " Instead of saying the last word of the title, Stewart pretended to fall asleep at this desk, loudly snoring. Then he bolted upright, as if startled awake: "Hey, what happened to the old baby? Is the old baby OK?" Grinning broadly, he said sarcastically: "I loved that movie. It's 'Forrest Gump' meets...." And he dozed off again.

When he shook himself awake, he stared at the camera, giggling, "Why does that keep happening?" I know Stewart was just having fun--for a more cerebral dissection of "Button's" failings, you can read this new piece by the New Yorker's David Denby, who quips: "The central drama in the picture turns out to be Brad Pitt's makeup." But I'm guessing that after Stewart's raucous mocking, he has about as good a chance of getting Pitt as a guest on his show as he has of landing Dick Cheney.

Watch Stewart's "Button" bashing right here: