Year of Release: 1994 Directed by Robert Zemeckis. Starring Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Sally Field, and Gary Sinise.
Or, as I like to call it: Forrest Junk. Be warned, I spoil the entire movie.
Maybe I was just in the wrong mood. Maybe I’m just really strange and dislike movies designed primarily to play off the viewer’s emotions. But if you like Forrest Gump, do not read further. This film pulled off the rare achievement of taking everything that annoys me about cinema and combining all those factors into what may have been the most excruciating 140 minutes of my life. I hated, hated, hated, hated, hated this movie.
It began with the opening music. It was a little sappy, but I smiled and thought the film would be sweet and touching, if overly sentimental. Instead, it was one preposterous situation after another, a cast of characters who ALL make a blade of grass look intelligent, stealing scenes from vastly superior movies (The Princess Bride reference was particularly unforgiveable), grating voiceovers that only repeat what is being depicted, slow tracking shots that do nothing assist the story, a nonsensical tweaking of history, a dating of events that makes some narratives play out too quickly and others too slowly, and stupid metaphors that make no sense at all. Life is NOT like a box of chocolates, and you always know what you’re going to get in a box of chocolates: some nutty, some caramels, some creams, and some dark chocolate, and there usually is a chart so you can identify which chocolates are what.
An example of the lousy timeframe: Forrest and Jenny reunite in the summer of 1968, the last full year of LBJ’s presidency, by whom Forrest was awarded the medal of honor. Therefore, Forrest could not have been in Vietnam for several years, because when he went off to war Jenny ran away to California where she struggled to support herself as a street performer. But that was also in 1968, because during the flashback she was performing outside a theatre which is showing Rosemary’s Baby, which first opened on June 12, 1968. Is the film saying that she spent three or four years trying to get to California, and then hooked up with a band immediately after arriving, right before Forrest came home?)
Also, someone with an IQ of 75, who is named after the founder of the Ku Klux Klan, who has been thoroughly taught segregation his entire life, and makes comments to that extent, is not going to turn around and offer to assist a black woman who drops her books. That’s smug, audience pleasing, patting ourselves on the back propaganda, if there ever was any.
I get it. Dwelling on details like that is missing the point of the story. But let me summarize that story:
Mama becomes whore
To send stupid son to school.
He meets and sleeps with
Jenny, a pretty
Girl abused by her father.
She runs away, and
He lives through hist’ry.
After Vietnam and porn
They reunite in
They sleep together once more,
Have sex and a kid.
Then she leaves, because
The film needs sorrow. He then
Runs and runs and runs.
And that is profound,
Since Forrest was once crippled.
Then he finds Jenny,
But their time is brief
Since she was a junkie and
Dies of AIDS. The end.
What is moving and profound about that? A cynical part of me thinks this was so popular only because it was raising awareness for HIV and AIDS. Because there is no other way this could seriously have won best picture over: Quiz Show, Pulp Fiction, Ed Wood, Three Colors: Red, Three Colors: White, The Hudsucker Proxy, and Bullets Over Broadway. Heck, if the academy wanted to select a feel-good crowd pleaser with gratuitous voiceovers, The Shawshank Redemption, for all its flaws, is a hundred times better than this.
As I see it, there are two possibilities 1) all those who love this film have been duped or 2) I am weirder than I realized, and I am missing some basic human emotion gene. I am going to go with 1).
And in conclusion, to call Forrest (and this film) stupid would be an insult to stupid people.
Content Advisory: Several implied sexual encounters, some with partial nudity; references to pedophilia; one strong vulgarity many other milder ones; drug use; some wartime violence; and ham-fisted manipulative dishonestly throughout. MPAA rating: PG-13
Suggested Audience: Adults
Personal Recommendation: F