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July 9, 2014 7:13 AM   Subscribe


 
I saw the trailer for Forest Gump back when it was COMING SOON. I hated it, so I never bothered with the movie, and articles like this one tell me I didn't miss much.

As his longtime love Jenny dies of a mysterious "virus" for daring to experiment with drugs and be a hippie, Forrest is rewarded with millions of dollars and countless plaudits from authority figures for not having the capacity to think critically. It's the American Ideal as fashioned by warmongers.
posted by philip-random at 7:22 AM on July 9 [38 favorites]


Sometime around 2006, a bunch of us were watching the Oscars and Tom Hanks came out to present something - and the orchestra was playing the Forrest Gump theme as he walked out. And the group of us watching all caught this very subtle, but definitive, dirty look that Tom shot to the orchestra when he recognized it. "That's gotta be a curse," one of us said as we cracked up, "to know that for the rest of your life, that is going to be your theme song."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:24 AM on July 9 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I twigged pretty early it was a male-wish-fullfillment-punish-the-ladies sorta flick.
A cultural mastabatory effort to be sure
posted by edgeways at 7:26 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


Never seen it. The trailers alone make me want to fetch my dinner up.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 7:29 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


God I swear that movie was GOP Pysops.
posted by The Whelk at 7:29 AM on July 9 [21 favorites]


The phrase that stuck with me about it was something like, "a love-letter congratulating the aging boomers who stuck to the sidelines of the counter-culture."
posted by Navelgazer at 7:29 AM on July 9 [44 favorites]


Also, if you want a ludicrously auto-fellating boomer swamp bog at least The Big Chill has a good soundtrack.
posted by The Whelk at 7:31 AM on July 9 [14 favorites]


Forrest Gump is one of a very few movies that I've had a visceral, negative reaction to (Fight Club was another). I mean, I've seen a million crappy movies, but most of them you forget and just get on with your life. Forrest Gump, on the other hand, still makes me angry when I think about it. Shitty milquetoast feel-good cheap-ass Oscar bait bullshit, from the first minute to the last.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:31 AM on July 9 [5 favorites]


I HATED CAST AWAY
posted by Auden at 7:33 AM on July 9 [3 favorites]


I mean, I am left to understand the source material is actually a dark, a sure satire of the time peroid not a celebration of a generation that would like to pretend the political reforms and protests of the mid century NEVER HAPPENED and that it's politically 1969 forever.

Also in school and at home I had a tendency to run from place to place cause it was more fun than walking and I got so many "Run Forrest"s yelled at me that just reading the title makes me irratiionally angry.
posted by The Whelk at 7:35 AM on July 9 [3 favorites]


EMpressCallipygos: in the future, Hanks should demand the theme from The Burbs.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:35 AM on July 9 [9 favorites]


Also, I don't know if it was intended, but I lump this movie in with the 80s rash of "hippies and liberals are really dumb cause they're not constantly hoarding money like a real American!" plotlines and sitcoms in the 80s as part of the Randian Right wing counter programming.
posted by The Whelk at 7:37 AM on July 9 [7 favorites]


The second I saw my first brief, in-passing, glimpse of Gump on tv, I knew I had made the correct decision to avoid it entirely. How it became such a favorite is beyond me. But, then, I never understood the popularity of Tootsie among my blue-haired parents' crowd, either.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:38 AM on July 9


...but I lump this movie in with the 80s rash of "hippies and liberals are really dumb cause they're not constantly hoarding money like a real American!" plotlines and sitcoms in the 80s as part of the Randian Right wing counter programming.

The Gary Sinese effect.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:43 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


I re-watch Forrest Gump whenever it's on TV. It's fantastic.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:43 AM on July 9 [7 favorites]


Ugh, this goddamn movie. Despite nominally starring TOM HANKS as SLOW TOM HANKS, this movie is actually about Jenny, a woman of great agency and alacrity. Her greatest (only?) flaw is that he gets caught up in the counter-culture movement of the 60's, for which crime she is ground into pulp by the world around her. Forrest's entire relationship with her is summed up in one line: "I'm not a smart man, but I know what love is."

That's great and all, and fits perfectly with the rest of this movie's sickly-sweet Oscar-bait, except it completely destroys Jenny as a useful character. Up until then, she has been a complex and dynamic woman who is one of the more interesting foils in film in the last twenty years. And Forrest just steamrolls over her with his "love," which is little more than the blind affection your golden retriever feels for you. So, rather than try to understand what her life has been and what she might want to do with it in the future, we get a romantic arc where Jenny learns to stop all of this nonsense and come back to Alabama to be a good wife. Where she dies anyway, because her earlier transgressions have of course tainted her beyond redemption.
posted by Mayor West at 7:47 AM on July 9 [59 favorites]


I saw this in the theater when it came out, and it was the movie that made me decide I'd seen all the movies about magical cognitively-impaired people that I needed to in my lifetime. I grew up with an uncle who'd suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was in his early 20s, and something about Forrest Gump set off this mix of rage and grief about the complete bullshit of such portrayals. I remember crying on my partner's shoulder in the parking lot, and all these years later I still feel profoundly offended that this movie exists and won all those awards.
posted by not that girl at 7:48 AM on July 9 [32 favorites]


Huh. Today I learned that hating Forrest Gump is a thing. I had no idea.
posted by jbickers at 7:50 AM on July 9 [19 favorites]


I was never a huge Hanks fan, but having to watch this movie with my mother (who loved it, except for the cursing and sex parts) solidified my "meh" into hatred. I hate his stupid potato-y face. His voice grates on my last nerve (Gumpified or not). This amuses or alarms many people who just luuuuuuve him. His success is an utter mystery to me, but I've given up trying to do anything but avoid seeing him in anything. Thankfully he's not in Every Goddamn Movie the way he used to be.
posted by emjaybee at 7:51 AM on July 9 [3 favorites]


Pulp Fiction should have won Best Picture. What a travesty.
posted by Renoroc at 7:51 AM on July 9 [14 favorites]


Huh. Today I learned that hating Forrest Gump is a thing. I had no idea.

I am not surprised that's the reaction on Metafilter, especially with Jezebel link. Remember, your favorite band suxx.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:51 AM on July 9 [8 favorites]


Here's my old Geocities rant about this movie.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:52 AM on July 9 [3 favorites]


Huh. Today I learned that hating Forrest Gump is a thing. I had no idea.

I've been noticing it pop up in the last year. My theory is that all of us who were forced to watch this movie over and over in school have now grown up and discovered our critical faculty and are communally coming around to hating it.

Just wait til we get to October Sky.
posted by Think_Long at 7:53 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


Her greatest (only?) flaw is that he gets caught up in the counter-culture movement of the 60's, for which crime she is ground into pulp by the world around her.

Except, not. The film (and maybe the book, as well) makes it clear that Jenny's relationship with her sexually abusive father is something she can never address in a healthy way.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:54 AM on July 9 [7 favorites]


Driving Mrs. Gump.
posted by vapidave at 7:55 AM on July 9


The experience of being named Jenny when this movie came out was exhausting. I survived endless Jen-ay's on a daily basis for years afterward. I always get nervous that someone is going to suddenly remember how hilarious it is to call me Jen-ay over and over again when they re-watch the movie.
posted by JennyJupiter at 7:57 AM on July 9 [10 favorites]


I was never a huge Hanks fan...

Try Road to Perdition.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:58 AM on July 9 [3 favorites]


Gump wins the Medal of Honor, affording him the opportunity to show Lyndon Johnson his butt-wound. Because talking to American presidents about his genitals is kind of his thing.

The thing that bugs me about that scene -- and this is something that a movie that isn't just a superficial list of historical facts from a third grade history textbook might actually have fun with -- is that that was totally Johnson's thing too. And yet there he is with what appears to be a politely embarrassed grin, which is the complete opposite of LBJ's personality. It's like the scene was written with Queen Elizabeth in mind but they couldn't find any Zelig-able footage or think of a way to shoehorn it in.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:58 AM on July 9 [17 favorites]


I enjoyed Forrest Gump when it first came out, but Pulp Fiction has definitely held up better over the years. Lindy West pretty much nails it in that synopsis. The movie would be greatly improved if the people sharing the bench with Forrest were so put off by his rambling on that they commit suicide à la Airplane.
posted by TedW at 8:00 AM on July 9 [12 favorites]


The film (and maybe the book, as well) makes it clear that Jenny's relationship with her sexually abusive father is something she can never address in a healthy way.

That's worse.
posted by griphus at 8:01 AM on July 9 [17 favorites]


Of course the really jarring thing is you can see the satirical skeleton under all the schmaltz, of course a school would graduate a "slow" student if he could play football, of course he just Candide-like gets everything from sheer luck and the power of positive thinking like all Americans secretly think the world works, of course he commands a religious "spiritual" movement that's based on literally nothing except the projections of his yuppie followers....
posted by The Whelk at 8:01 AM on July 9 [13 favorites]


Man, I gave up on Jezebel years ago and even though I personally enjoyed it, I've known a lot of people who hated this movie since it came out* ...and this recap was totally worth it.

Bubba: "Camarones…del…diablo." Hee hee.


*Including my high school friend's Mormon mother who referred to it as a "shitty piece of tripe." She was awesome.
posted by psoas at 8:01 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


Just as a reminder, the movies this thing beat out for Best Picture included not just Pulp Fiction, but The Shawshank Redemption, Bullets Over Broadway, Red (from Kieslowski's Three Colors, not Dame Helen Mirren with a machine gun), Heavenly Creatures, The Madness of King George, Eat Drink Man Woman, Legends of the Fall, and The Lion King. Hell, it even beat Speed, which I'd argue was a better constructed and executed film.
posted by Etrigan at 8:03 AM on July 9 [39 favorites]


For years and years my mom believed that Gary Sinise had no actual legs. She thought he had special effects legs at the beginning of the movie.

"Mom," I said. "He has legs."

"You're just saying that because they look so realistic."
posted by compartment at 8:04 AM on July 9 [66 favorites]


Also I think one of the defining moments of my life was when I walked into a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant in San Francisco and had to wrestle with my pre-conceived notions of merchandising like Jacob and the angel.
posted by griphus at 8:04 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


OK, I will admit that Shawshank is a better movie.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:05 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


"Mom," I said. "He has legs."

"You're just saying that because they look so realistic."



At work, I am located a good 50 feet from the next nearest person and I am alone in my own little office. I have now laughed so loudly that people are looking at me. This is exactly the kind of completely insane bizarro argument I find myself getting into with family members.
posted by phunniemee at 8:12 AM on July 9 [8 favorites]


And the group of us watching all caught this very subtle, but definitive, dirty look that Tom shot to the orchestra when he recognized it.

It's sad really: Tom Hanks the person is a charming guy with a wicked sense of humor, but you would never know that from the schmaltz and dreck that litters his film career, Forrest Gump being only the most egregious example.
posted by Cash4Lead at 8:13 AM on July 9 [6 favorites]


Of course the really jarring thing is you can see the satirical skeleton under all the schmaltz

I think it's way more jarring realizing that this movie came out 20 years ago.

Also, Shawshank was a much better movie.
posted by Gev at 8:13 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


I was 14 in 1994, and the only thing I remember about Gump is having bought a really big soda, needing to pee, and wondering why it wouldn't just end already. Not sure what that says.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:16 AM on July 9


Just wait til we get to October Sky.

you take that back
posted by backseatpilot at 8:18 AM on July 9 [3 favorites]


I read Jezebel and value the polemic, but then I liked Wurtzel's Bitch a whole lot and only Prozac Nation ever receives a footnote...but, other than a premise of not-listening to-your-mother, I didn't find the observations artfully wry. I thought the movie's strength was the novelty of its narrative and to risk a term-- post modern.

Its popularity was such that this article demonstrates it to this day-- a love and hate phenomenon with a massive audience, which is something in itself.

I probably have several favorite scenes, but the first I recall to draw me in was Forrest (after being wounded and recuperating) watching Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C, and a veteran with a missing limb yelling: Gump, how can you watch that stupid shit!
posted by lazycomputerkids at 8:18 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


Just the other day, I was thinking "I really look forward to the day that this movie is completely forgotten, because I really look forward to the day that 'Run, Forrest, run!' is no longer uttered."

Seriously, of all the things for people to latch onto, this is the worst, because it is always used as some sort of weird derision of people who are running. Most recently, I heard it while someone was running to catch the train. What the hell, people?
posted by filthy light thief at 8:20 AM on July 9


I found Road to Perdition (Hanks aside) overrated Thorzdad.

My husband long ago accepted that I am no fun to watch movies with. Unless they are superbly bad movies that we can mock together. But I dislike-to-hate a lot of them.

It's better if I'm a little buzzed, so we often hit the bars before the theater. I still hate them, but I am less angry about it.
posted by emjaybee at 8:20 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I remember pouring over articles about the special effects, particularly Captain Dan's legs (or lack there of) to see how it was done. Seemed so amazing at the time.

The movie itself was fine, if predictable. But a it was cultural phenomena for a while, so that makes it fascinating to study.

Titanic was better though.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:22 AM on July 9


I read the book long before I saw the movie, and as I recall it was rather bitter and dark, or at least a strong lacing of same, and fairly openly mocking of the Reaganite period, especially their tendency to worship the theory of the soldier and throw away actual veterans. So it was kind of strange to watch the movie.
posted by tavella at 8:26 AM on July 9 [4 favorites]


Is there anything anymore that can be evaluated on its own merits instead of being view through political/cultural war optics?
posted by dios at 8:27 AM on July 9 [4 favorites]


Annie-freakin'-Hall.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:27 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


Is there anything anymore that can be evaluated on its own merits instead of being view through political/cultural war optics?

Sure. Just not so much a movie that is about political/cultural war optics.
posted by Etrigan at 8:29 AM on July 9 [17 favorites]


I wonder about an alternate-universe Forrest Gump movie which is exactly the same, except Forrest is a metaphor for pre-1960s American patriarchy reacting to post-1960s America (skating through the changes and winding up winning because he's white and male, i.e. very lucky) and Jenny is the same metaphor for American feminism, ground down by the patriarchy at every stage of her life before finally giving in.

Yep.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:33 AM on July 9 [7 favorites]


Is there anything anymore that can be evaluated on its own merits instead of being view through political/cultural war optics?

No. Nothing. It's disallowed. If you do it again, the Critical Theory Police will kick in your door and haul you off to a gulag where you'll be forced to write essays deconstructing the propagandist subtext of The Care Bears Movie until you literally beg for death.
posted by cortex at 8:33 AM on July 9 [30 favorites]


in the future, Hanks should demand the theme from The Burbs.
posted by Navelgazer


I am on the verge of signing up for a sockpuppet account just so I can favorite this again.
posted by troika at 8:35 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


Worrying that Pulp Fiction should have won Best Picture over Forrest Gump is like arguing whether it's Luby's or Picadilly that has the least worst salisbury steak.
posted by komara at 8:36 AM on July 9 [3 favorites]


That's not the movie I remember. I recall a movie about a simple person who went through life without judging others. I don't remember a political or cultural message in it beyond being nice to others. I recall the contrast between culture wars and Forrest's seeming indifference to any significance to them as he never judged things beyond the moment.

Granted, I only saw it once because I didn't like it; it was too saccharine and lugubrious in parts, and I don't like love stories. But I recall the acting was good enough and it had some neat special effects at the time. That was the reaction I had to the movie, and I sure as heck don't remember judgments being made or sides being taken in the culture wars. That people feel compelled to react to it, as if it liking it or hating it is obligatory depending on what side of the political/cultural wars they are on, seems to me to be sad.
posted by dios at 8:39 AM on July 9 [7 favorites]


I remember seeing this as a perpetually underemployed GenX 20something and just being ENRAGED. I left the movie seething with anger at every smug boomer who took great pleasure in telling me how sucky my generation was. And how even the stupidest boomers were better in every way. I HATE Forrest Gump.
posted by Malla at 8:39 AM on July 9 [12 favorites]


All of you people going back and forth between Forrest Gump and Shawshank and Pulp Fiction for which should have won best picture are morons.

I feel I need to remind you that 1994 is the year that Jim Carrey was in approximately all of the movies (except those three mentioned above), AND the year that Speed came out, AND the year that the cute boy from the Sandlot starred in the Mighty Ducks sequel. How could you even possibly compete? How could you even?!!?
posted by phunniemee at 8:41 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


I saw the movie and found it so deeply, wildly jingoistic (offensively so) that any other flaws were lost to that.
posted by Bovine Love at 8:44 AM on July 9 [3 favorites]


I recall a movie about a simple person who went through life without judging others. I don't remember a political or cultural message in it beyond being nice to others. I recall the contrast between culture wars and Forrest's seeming indifference to any significance to them as he never judged things beyond the moment.

Indifference to culture wars and politics is one thing in a movie about two people on a beach. When the point of the entire movie is "Hey, I was involved in a bunch of major cultural and political things of the last half-century," then indifference is not only a conscious choice, but it is also a judgment, and it is also significant.
posted by Etrigan at 8:48 AM on July 9 [21 favorites]


There have been films about human blanks before, notably Zelig and Being There. But where the absent heroes of those films suggested a hollowness in the world that responded to them, Forrest Gump goes right out and celebrates the blank. Dumb is smart and wise is stupid. There isn't a whiff of satire about the whole project. When Gump encounters an institution of any kind - school, army, corporate business - the result is always offbeat success for him and validation for the status quo. Forrest Gump is a schmaltz-Zelig, a Being There engineered from the genetic material of a Hallmark card.
posted by zamboni at 8:49 AM on July 9 [14 favorites]


I can hardly find words to string together to clearly define my loathing for this film, partially due to the red mist obscuring my vision and secondarily due to a fear that the words might form some sort of incantation to manifest my utter disdain in a physical form which might shrivel flesh with a single sneer.

One interminable paean to the triumph of idiocy, one unlikely event piled on another to beggar the imagination and reveal the film's advocates to be willfully blind and little smarter than Gump himself, who has only to stagger about the landscape in some good-hearted fashion, fall into puddles, then come up dripping oh-so-fortuitous diamonds. Gump. Gump. What a finely-crafted bit of propaganda to be buried in the all-seen navel of the Boomers that they might self-congratulate as they masturbate through the feel-good prevarication and groove to the sounds of their flown youth, recast in schmaltz and the kind of sickeningly sweet frosting made devoid of even base sugar with the kind of artificiality which makes any nascent tumors within rats swell like the egos of that most awful generation of the last century.

Nothing about this does not crawl on the floor and wheedle for an Oscar, please please please. What grim desolation of imagination is required to create a self-insert Marty Stupid to have a tour through those Golden Years, ending at the smooth, bittersweet stop you knew had to come from the moment you saw the ride advertised. Not a second of it was left uncalculated by some fabulous Hollywood mainframe to be the kind of supranormal stimuli pornography could only dream about in between lines of cocaine. No doubt the euthanasia booths will be rolling this nonstop as various Foxy Grandpas and Grandmas of decades to come pass on to their sweet self-regard.

My only hope for this film is that future historians will dissect every doubtlessly preserved frame of this film, every glitter of its attendant memorabilia, and each glyph of glowing praise from its legions of grey-haired cultists to reveal the films true nature as a moronic spectacle to a warped hump in the population curve so spoiled it believes its every turd is a trophy.
posted by adipocere at 8:55 AM on July 9 [42 favorites]


When the point of the entire movie is "Hey, I was involved in a bunch of major cultural and political things of the last half-century," then indifference is not only a conscious choice, but it is also a judgment, and it is also significant.

You realize that is not obligatory, right? One is not required to make a judgment. When Gump sees the african american student drop a book while going into the school, he helps her by picking it up. Because he is innocent of the context and just believes he should help that person in that moment in time. What significant judgment was he (or the movie) making about that scene? I submit the answer is none, unless you read it through some with-us-or-against-us decoder ring.
posted by dios at 8:57 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, Jennay is off somewhere having a shitty attitude because of the '70s.

Shitty attitudes were common in the 70s, some were able to get by with pot, a few good rock albums, digital watches, and painting your kitchen avocado, some found distraction by getting lost for days inside their cathedral-sized cars with cigar lighters for every passenger and auto-leveling shock absorbers, but for some, not even a monstrous avocado-colored Lincoln filled with pot and 8-tracks with never-ending mobius strips of Floyd, Frampton, ELP, and the Allman Brothers were enough, and thus required more drastic solutions, such as cocaine and the invention of disco.
posted by chambers at 8:58 AM on July 9 [14 favorites]




For a good nostalgia-infused film about the '60s with Tom Hanks, watch That Thing You Do.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:00 AM on July 9 [19 favorites]


I hated it when it came out.

I still hate it now.
posted by kyrademon at 9:00 AM on July 9


I can hardly find words...

I liked this movie. Nevertheless, this was a most excellent hateful screed. Ornery, eloquent, dripping with malevolent condescension. Faze-like, in parts. 10/10 would read again.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 9:01 AM on July 9 [4 favorites]


I've been noticing it pop up in the last year. My theory is that all of us who were forced to watch this movie over and over in school have now grown up and discovered our critical faculty and are communally coming around to hating it.

Wow, I learned something today, thank you!

Yeah, the book is very different.
posted by Melismata at 9:02 AM on July 9


Worrying that Pulp Fiction should have won Best Picture over Forrest Gump is like arguing whether it's Luby's or Picadilly that has the least worst salisbury steak.

That's not fair. Pulp Fiction is constructed by gluing together a million of Tarantino's favorite moments from great earlier films. Forrest Gump is constructed from a million lies about American history.
posted by maxsparber at 9:04 AM on July 9 [8 favorites]


This was a funny piece, but I'm pretty sure it is a satire OF a satire. I mean, I didn't see Forrest Gump until a couple of years after it came out because it seemed like a kind of schmalzy movie for "serious people," but when I did see it, I thought "Oh, it's a comedy."

What I remember from it is the "shit happens" bumper stickers and the happy faces and, yes, showing the president his butt. And what the Whelk said about "Of course a school would graduate a 'slow' student if he could play football," and the "power of positive thinking."

Am I misremembering or are the things Lindy West is highlighting here funny because they're supposed to be funny?
posted by OnceUponATime at 9:05 AM on July 9


When the point of the entire movie is "Hey, I was involved in a bunch of major cultural and political things of the last half-century," then indifference is not only a conscious choice, but it is also a judgment, and it is also significant.

You realize that is not obligatory, right? One is not required to make a judgment. When Gump sees the african american student drop a book while going into the school, he helps her by picking it up. Because he is innocent of the context and just believes he should help that person in that moment in time. What significant judgment was he (or the movie) making about that scene? I submit the answer is none, unless you read it through some with-us-or-against-us decoder ring.


The significant judgment was "Racism is bad." It's puerile, and it's schmaltzy, but it's still a statement. It's still a judgment, even if it's a dumb and obvious one.
posted by Etrigan at 9:05 AM on July 9 [3 favorites]


That's not fair. Pulp Fiction is constructed by gluing together a million of Tarantino's favorite moments from great earlier films. Forrest Gump is constructed from a million lies about American history.

Huh? 1) are you thinking of Kill Bill? 2) how is showing actual news footage a lie? 3) Are you being sarcastic, and I missed it?
posted by Melismata at 9:06 AM on July 9


Am I misremembering or are the things Lindy West is highlighting here funny because they're supposed to be funny?

Bad satire too easily becomes earnest commentary.
posted by Etrigan at 9:07 AM on July 9


As far as I'm concerned, Zemeckis can make as many Oscar-bait shmaltzfests like Forrest Gump as he wants. He's earned it after directing both Back to the Future AND Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
posted by FJT at 9:11 AM on July 9 [6 favorites]


Karen: "Oh god, it's my favorite movie ever! You've just *got* to see it!"
me: "I'm not much for hollywood, and this really rings bells for me; I don't wanna see it."
Karen: "Oh, you *must* see it! It's spectacular! I love it so. much!"
me: "It really smells bad to me, I don't really want to do this."

But my old friend Karen was insistent. So I went, so I saw it. And I was in her vehicle, so I was fuct; no way was she leaving, she's jerking herself off watching this piece of shit yet again, and no way she's leaving, and I'm stuck."

It was and is one of the biggest pieces of shit I have ever seen. I hate it on so many levels, for so many reasons.

Why isn't this movie judged on it's merits? I *has* no merits. If dogshit has merits, if you rate dogshit, you can give this movie merits then. I rate dogshit as dogshit; perhaps we're just different that way.

And it really sealed the deal for me on hollywood -- they gave this piece of garbage the top prize they have to give. They said that this is what we are, this is what we do, this is what are proudest of. They said that they totally suck.

I sat in that theater, watching my stupid friend watching this stupid movie, a rapturous look on her stupid face. I should have just walked home. I should have gouged my eyes out.

I hate this movie with the fire of ten thousand suns. Complete and total hollywood garbage.
posted by dancestoblue at 9:12 AM on July 9 [6 favorites]


Huh? 1) are you thinking of Kill Bill?

Pulp fiction has a bunch of scenes lifted from other films. I don't have an issue with it as he successfully makes them his own in a new way, but some really don't like it, not unlike the new found dislike of Led Zeppelin by some when they find out about where a lot of their songs came from.
posted by chambers at 9:14 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


I attribute Forrest Gump's success to the fact that it's Reference!Porn, which means that average people spend the movie congratulating themselves on recognizing the references to Watergate, "Imagine," etc., which probably doesn't sound like an accomplishment to most MeFites, but really: Think of all the coworkers and family friends you have who never get what you're talking about. Even if you think you're referencing something really obvious. Gump takes these incredibly well-known historical events and recasts them as "wink-wink, nudge-nudge" moments so that even people who only remember the slightest bit about 9th-grade American Civ can feel included.

It makes them feel smart, and they leave feeling good about themselves, which casts a retroactive glow on the movie. This is the same reason people like other terrible fare like Family Guy.
posted by pineappleheart at 9:14 AM on July 9 [30 favorites]


Say what you will about the film, but remember that without it we wouldn't have the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company to eat at

(I leave it to the reader to decide if that is good thing or not.)
posted by TedW at 9:15 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


For me, the worst part about watching Forrest Gump is that the audience is forced to see the movie through the eyes of Forrest Gump. Whenever I've seen the film, every time the story circles back to Jenny, I think "Why can't we watch Jenny Gump? I would rather be watching a movie about a woman who lives a wild and crazy life, and who over the years struggles with her relationship with a mentally-challenged man who she eventually marries, probably because dying from AIDS in the 1980s was expensive. Instead, I'm watching a movie where someone who really has no idea what's going on in America at all gets rich as hell on account of 1) he's the luckiest bastard of all time, and 2) he can run fast."
posted by 23skidoo at 9:15 AM on July 9 [9 favorites]


Huh? 1) are you thinking of Kill Bill? 2) how is showing actual news footage a lie? 3) Are you being sarcastic, and I missed it?

I'll start with 2, since chambers already tackled one: When you insert Forrest Gump into news footage, it is no longer actual news footage, and the larger narrative of Forrest Gump, which includes things like consistently painting the American left as violent hypocrites, does a disservice to history.

3: I was being a little sarcastic.
posted by maxsparber at 9:16 AM on July 9 [3 favorites]


Used Cars was Zemeckis' triumph. Everything after that got a little too Spielbergo.
posted by valkane at 9:19 AM on July 9 [7 favorites]


Referencing Gump to Zelig and Chauncey is credible, but the Independent's claim "There isn't a whiff of satire about the whole project," is supported by a conclusion of "validation" of a satus quo rather than from the work itself. Gump comments to/satirizes society aplenty, though not to the genius levels of a Kosinski/Ashby/Sellers triumph. And Allen, as well, set a bar Gump doesn't rival so much as follow, but I enjoy all these films.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 9:20 AM on July 9


Metafilter: a monstrous avocado-colored Lincoln filled with pot and 8-tracks with never-ending mobius strips of Floyd
posted by theredpen at 9:22 AM on July 9 [5 favorites]


Now that I think about it, I don't know if I've ever even seen it all the way through. It never really appealed to me enough to do so.
posted by elizardbits at 9:22 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


so well done me i guess
posted by elizardbits at 9:22 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


you'll be forced to write essays deconstructing the propagandist subtext of The Care Bears Movie until you literally beg for death
They stare at someone and then their magic rays rewrite his brain, and this makes them the good guys!? How can you not worry about the subtext there?
posted by roystgnr at 9:24 AM on July 9 [10 favorites]


elizardbits: "so well done me i guess"

you win

hooray
posted by boo_radley at 9:25 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


OK, this movie deserves a lot of the venom it's getting, but the Jenny hate is so very wrong.

Everyone else sees the outer Jenny; she's just an object, a thing to them to be used for their own purposes. Forrest sees the inner Jenny, the potential that was continually taken from her from a young age. He is the anchor that allows her to explore and experience everything, while providing that one last link back to her true self. Even when she herself has given up everything and no longer believes it exists, Forrest knows it's there.

It's not a matter of Forrest giving her reign to sow some wild oats or get things out of her system. He's never waiting for her to return to the fold like a prodigal, once she gives up her wayward ways. He is accepting and welcoming of her continually, because he sees that she is worthy of real love always. There is never a time, no matter what she is doing, when she is not a worthwhile person to him.

And yeah, the ending's a drag that she dies, which seems to be a punishment for all her wrongs. Except, she has a son. A son about the same age she was before her mother died and her life took its first wrong turn. And that son will have a father who will care for him properly, unconditionally, and will sacrifice himself for the child. Forrest Jr. isn't Forrest's second chance at a good life - he's already got that. Junior is Jenny reborn, forged in the same fire of loss and with the same spirit, but stripped of all the negative.

Yeah, it would have been better had Junior been a girl. It's not a perfect story, and there's plenty of stuff to dislike about it. It shouldn't have been anywhere near the Oscars, either. But I still disagree with any hate directed at Jenny.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 9:25 AM on July 9 [10 favorites]


I recall a movie about a simple person who went through life without judging others

I hated this part of it too, because I'm tired of seeing intellectual capacity related to amorality and immorality. Mentally or developmentally disabled people deserve dignity, but valorizing their disabilities like that is just creepy.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:29 AM on July 9 [21 favorites]


I attribute Forrest Gump's success to the fact that it's Reference!Porn, which means that average people spend the movie congratulating themselves on recognizing the references


This is how my dad enjoyed Family Guy when I introduced the show to him more than ten years ago. I was laughing at all the dumb gags and gross-out humor, but every time there was a reference to an obscure movie, TV show or famous person from before my time he would laugh uproariously then turn to me and say, "Do you even understand that reference?" Most of the time I had to answer "No," and eventually I learned to stop laughing at the pop culture references I didn't get even though I knew they were supposed to be funny. Dad also liked Forrest Gump.
posted by mediated self at 9:34 AM on July 9


boo_radley: "you win

hooray
"

Sorry, I'll return to my tetrapack of wine and the large collection of exotic birds that fills my house.
posted by boo_radley at 9:34 AM on July 9


When Gump sees the african american student drop a book while going into the school, he helps her by picking it up. Because he is innocent of the context and just believes he should help that person in that moment in time. What significant judgment was he (or the movie) making about that scene? I submit the answer is none, unless you read it through some with-us-or-against-us decoder ring.
- dios


That's just it, though. You can't remove it from context.

I mean, yes, of course we should all be nice to one another without prejudice and as a default mode, but in the context of an African-American student in that place at that time, you can't just go "I don't see race" and leave it at that. Racism is built into society; it's a perennial problem of human existence and it won't just go away if we pretend it isn't there.

In fact, the freedom to deny "seeing race" is precisely the sort of smug, smarmy privileged attitude that keeps the machine rolling along well past the point when we've all agreed it ought to stop. It's the powerful people, the status quo defenders, who are able to say, "Okay, well, yes, racism is bad, but we don't overtly discriminate anymore and so the problem is fixed forever."

The whole movie is like that. It celebrates the status quo while giving lip service to basic pablum like "racism is bad" and "death is bad," and its complete lack of commentary on many of these issues is itself commentary on those who agitate for change.
posted by Scattercat at 9:36 AM on July 9 [26 favorites]


Is it still okay to unironically like "Castaway"?
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:37 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


I hated this part of it too, because I'm tired of seeing intellectual capacity related to amorality and immorality.

Or as I heard it argued by a critic at the time ... the basic point of Forest Gump is that purity and decency can only be achieved by idiots, so the rest of us should just shut up and hate ourselves.
posted by philip-random at 9:40 AM on July 9 [3 favorites]


the basic point of Forest Gump is that purity and decency can only be achieved by idiots, so the rest of us should just shut up and hate ourselves.

I think you have missed the point.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:41 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


Jenny doesn't die in the book. Groom wrote a sequel in which she dies from an Ebola-type disease.

Quiz Show should have won best picture that year.
posted by brujita at 9:44 AM on July 9


Yeah, I remember pouring over articles about the special effects, particularly Captain Dan's legs (or lack there of)

TEACH THE CONTROVERSY!
posted by Navelgazer at 9:44 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


OK, this movie deserves a lot of the venom it's getting, but the Jenny hate is so very wrong.

Part of me agrees with you, but there is another part that has to recognize that Jenny herself in combination with, not exclusively, the traumatic events in her past are responsible for her choices and actions. When I first saw that film, the Jenny/Forrest dynamic reminded me of how victims (Forrest being the victim here) remain in abusive/exploitative relationships because there is 'still a good person in there,' and rarely leads to a good ending, and never sat well with me.
posted by chambers at 9:45 AM on July 9 [3 favorites]


the basic point of Forest Gump is that purity and decency can only be achieved by idiots, so the rest of us should just shut up and hate ourselves.

I think you have missed the point.


I never saw the movie, just paraphrasing what I recall someone else saying. But please, what's the point he missed?
posted by philip-random at 9:50 AM on July 9


what's the point he missed?

Forrest is not a good person because he's simple, nor is he the only good person in the movie.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:51 AM on July 9 [7 favorites]


Good point, chambers, and part of the reason it's not a perfect story. Like the very light treatment of the civil rights movement, the movie manages to get away with an awful lot of stuff because of its pop culture references, its quotability, its technical wizardry for the time, and a solid cast.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 9:51 AM on July 9


In the book Forrest was dim but also a jerk. The story was dark and satirical, and I liked it a lot but felt it sagged a bit after Forrest and the rest of the astronauts crash-landed on an island.

I do still remember random barbs from it, including that when Forrest was in college one of the football players shoved an engine block off the second story of the dorm onto another car, so the coach made him do extra laps.
posted by johnofjack at 10:01 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


what's the point he missed?

Forrest is not a good person because he's simple...


Forrest's two defining characteristics are that he's simple and that he runs fast. Everything else is clearly shown to flow from one of these (mostly the former) -- his worldview and morality are constructed based on what authority figures told him to do. He is good because he's simple (and because he's lucky).
posted by Etrigan at 10:05 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


Is it still okay to unironically like "Castaway"?

Depends. Do you own stock in Federal Express or Wilson Sporting Goods?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:06 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


his worldview and morality are constructed based on what authority figures told him to do

Not really, though. Like the scene in Vietnam. Jenny tells him if he's ever in trouble, just to run. Forrest makes the decision that he's not going to run without trying to save everyone in his unit.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:07 AM on July 9


Forrest Gump isn't about any of the sociopolitical things included in it. That's why it treats them all so lightly, and to be upset that it does is to miss the point of the story. It's a study of two types of human mind: how the stimulation-craving mind can relentlessly search for deeper meanings and higher involvements and never really reach the desired level of satisfaction despite all the cynical searching; while a less restless, more easily contented mind can go through life with a constant feeling of satisfaction, and never really lack for adventure because even the simplest things are full of gratification, like sitting in a tree with your favorite girl or sharing experiences with your friends. That's what it's about - finding the joys already inherent in the journey as we inevitably flit randomly through our lives. The sociopolitical backdrop is all just a big red herring.
posted by scrowdid at 10:13 AM on July 9 [9 favorites]


his worldview and morality are constructed based on what authority figures told him to do

Not really, though. Like the scene in Vietnam. Jenny tells him if he's ever in trouble, just to run. Forrest makes the decision that he's not going to run without trying to save everyone in his unit.


He specifically tells her later on, "I got it [the Medal of Honor] just by doing what you told me to do."
posted by Etrigan at 10:16 AM on July 9


But that's not what she told him to do.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:18 AM on July 9


the basic point of Forest Gump is that purity and decency can only be achieved by idiots, so the rest of us should just shut up and hate ourselves.

Erm, no. I'm not a huge fan of the movie, but the moral, insofar as there is one, is pretty clear, if only because they say it a kajillion times: Stupid is as stupid does. That is, people with 200 IQ points can consistently do the wrong thing, and people with 50 IQ points can consistently do the right thing. That said, it takes more than a repeated catchphrase to actually convey a message like that, and I don't think the movie is especially successful in doing so.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:20 AM on July 9 [5 favorites]


Is it still okay to unironically like "Castaway"?

I will maintain that if you can dodge or put aside the product placement, Castaway is actually a good movie. A really good movie. In fact, it might even be the closest Hollywood can get to contemplating the random emptiness of existence, and how humanity has to grant meaning to nothingness in order to keep the knowledge of nothingness from crushing us. If Castaway had been made on a smaller budget, dropped the FedEx deus ex machina crap, and had been in for example Polish, it would stand as a gem of contemplation of human nature.

But the reunion scene with the making out in the rainstorm is still way over the top though.
posted by jokeefe at 10:21 AM on July 9 [8 favorites]


his worldview and morality are constructed based on what authority figures told him to do

Not really, though. Like the scene in Vietnam. Jenny tells him if he's ever in trouble, just to run. Forrest makes the decision that he's not going to run without trying to save everyone in his unit.

He specifically tells her later on, "I got it [the Medal of Honor] just by doing what you told me to do."

But that's not what she told him to do.


It is, in a somewhat dumb way -- she told him to run, not to run alone or even to run away. And the key is that he (and therefore the movie) believes that his heroic act was the result of his doing what someone told him to do, rather than his own agency.
posted by Etrigan at 10:23 AM on July 9


I HATED CAST AWAY

I disagree. Wilson was some of the best character acting I had seen in years. So spare yet evocative. I've looked in IMDB but he doesn't seem to have done anything else.
posted by srboisvert at 10:25 AM on July 9 [4 favorites]


No, Here is the script:

"Listen, you promise me something, okay? Just if you're ever in trouble, don't try to be brave, you just run, okay? Just run away."
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:25 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


I feel like Cast Away didn't know what to do with its third act (and after years of considering it, I've yet to come up with a better idea for an ending, to be honest) but up until that point it is hauntingly good at doing what jokeefe describes above.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:27 AM on July 9


Ah, my mistake: it was an outboard motor. Details slipping on twenty-year-old memories? Unheard of!
posted by johnofjack at 10:28 AM on July 9


Gump is actually one of the Tzadikim Nistarim.
posted by odinsdream at 10:28 AM on July 9


No, Here is the script:

"Listen, you promise me something, okay? Just if you're ever in trouble, don't try to be brave, you just run, okay? Just run away."


You're right. I stand corrected.

But my point that he thinks he was doing what she told him to do stands.
posted by Etrigan at 10:31 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


I can't think of a movie I'm more embarrassed to love. If I have a bit of cultural snobbery about me, it is that I generally think I am more immune to schmaltz and emotional manipulation than most of my peers (to the point where I've learned to stop sharing my opinion of some movies we see together with my wife, lest she accuse me of being an unemotional robot). I was hoping both Jack and Rose would drown in "Titanic" rather than hear another word about their trite and cliche romance. I had to stop myself from cheering when Forest Gump's insufferably self-righteous kid got stabbed to death in "Pay it Forward".

Yet even being intellectually aware that many scenes in Forest Gump have "YOU WILL FEEL SAD/TOUCHED/MOVED DURING THIS SCENE" written in non-subtle, bright neon letters, certain scenes just get me every time. I started to get a lump in my throat just reading the ""Bubba was going to be a shrimpin' boat captain, but instead he died right there by that river in Vietnam" line in the article. The "I never thanked you for saving my life" scene between Lt. Dan and Forest gives me the same reaction, as much as I try to fight it.

Lindy West had a hysterical takedown of The Notebook the other day too.
posted by The Gooch at 10:33 AM on July 9 [4 favorites]


And every goddamn time I go to the santa monica pier (which is often, given that it's on my way to work) I have to see the goddamn bubba gump shrimp company.
posted by flaterik at 10:34 AM on July 9


If I remember correctly (and I might not), "Run, Forrest! Run!" took off because of Fight Club, and Brad Pitt yelling it at Raymond K. Hessel.

At least, I don't remember hearing it a lot before Fight Club, and then after Fight Club, I heard it all the time.
posted by jscalzi at 10:34 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


I saw the just the words "Forrest Gump" here and it made me angry. I knew I shouldn't go see this movie when it came out because loads of people that never went to movies told me "This is the best movie I've ever seen!" I hated it so much that I was actually talking to the screen during it (the first and last time, that's unspeakably rude). When Tom Hanks is doing his stupid weepy thing over Jenn-ay's grave I whisper-shouted, "God, if we give you the Oscar now will you shut the fuck up?"

I hated the message that, if you don't question anything, you will be rewarded but if you do? AIDs and no legs for you.
posted by sfkiddo at 10:36 AM on July 9 [4 favorites]


And yeah, the ending's a drag that she dies, which seems to be a punishment for all her wrongs. Except, she has a son. A son about the same age she was before her mother died and her life took its first wrong turn.



The son also has HIV.





(no, not really)
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:37 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


if you don't question anything, you will be rewarded

Forrest lost his best friend, his true love, his mother, and at the end of the movie is the single father to a child that will in all likelihood pass him intellectually by the time the kid is eight. That's pretty bleak, millionaire status aside.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:40 AM on July 9 [7 favorites]


I hated the message that, if you don't question anything, you will be rewarded but if you do? AIDs and no legs for you.

Lt. Dan never questioned anything either. He knew he was going to die in Vietnam, to the point that he actively tried to prevent Forrest from saving him. His point in the moral lesson was that if you continue to do what you think is best for someone else, they'll eventually come around and love you.
posted by Etrigan at 10:42 AM on July 9


The son also has HIV.

(no, not really)


I'll just leave this here.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:43 AM on July 9 [7 favorites]


Lt. Dan never questioned anything either.

You're right, but he was a cynic and had a crappy attitude which is still bad. Bad, I tell you.
posted by sfkiddo at 10:47 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


Oh my God, I just realized that the subtext of Forrest Gump is that he's living a tragedy in a heartless, feckless, arbitrary universe that sometimes rewards ignorance and punishes passion, and he's too stupid to realize it.
posted by maxsparber at 10:49 AM on July 9 [5 favorites]


Well, exactly. Just like most of the Jim Carrey movies that were coming out at the same time. Comedy!
posted by OnceUponATime at 10:51 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


Lt. Dan never questioned anything either.

You're right, but he was a cynic and had a crappy attitude which is still bad. Bad, I tell you.


That's all from after he lost his legs, though. His function isn't "Here's what happens to you if you transgress," it's "People will love you if you impose your will on them."
posted by Etrigan at 10:54 AM on July 9


Gawd, I never saw it until maybe last year when Mrs. Bastard made me watch it and within a minute I was all like "Does he really talk like that throughout the whole movie??? This is gonna suck!" Hoo-boy what a load that movie was.
posted by Cookiebastard at 10:56 AM on July 9


I don't care what anyone says. I love Forrest Gump. Sure it has problems. And I understand why some people will hate on it just because of how popular it was. But none of that takes any enjoyment away from it for me.

When I watch this movie I'm not thinking about what the director is trying to say about American society or the Vietnam era or Civil Rights or any of that. I think of my mom taking my brother and me to the theater to watch a "grown-up movie" rather than the kid movies I was used to. I remember stopping at the candy store at the mall before going in and my mom asking the clerk if she thought it was appropriate for a couple 9 and 11 year olds. I remember watching the VHS tape over and over and my brother and me would quiz each other about details from the movie (How many Jenny shrimp boats did they have? How many Dr. Pepper's did he drink? etc.). I remember memorizing the full list of ways Bubba mentioned to prepare shrimp just in case it came up some day. I remember driving on vacation with my family with the soundtrack playing in the car (which started my later appreciation for CCR).

This movie is inseparable from my childhood and no amount of arguing about various plot points will change my opinion one bit. It's my comfort movie. If I'm in a bad mood I can just put this on and everything's OK again. That's not a critic's take on it, of course, but a movie doesn't have to be perfect (or even good) for someone to love it.
posted by downtohisturtles at 10:56 AM on July 9 [11 favorites]


I read the book long before I saw the movie, and as I recall it was rather bitter and dark, or at least a strong lacing of same

It totally is. The difference between the two is summed up at the very beginning: instead of "Life is like a box of chocolates", in the book Forrest says "Bein an idiot is no box of chocolates".
posted by asterix at 10:57 AM on July 9 [3 favorites]


I guess more than anything what I got out of this is that Robert Zemeckis is an extremely skilled technical filmmaker who probably shouldn't try to tackle big ideas. They just don't suit him. But, good Lord, are his films fun to watch.
posted by maxsparber at 10:57 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


If I remember correctly (and I might not), "Run, Forrest! Run!" took off because of Fight Club, and Brad Pitt yelling it at Raymond K. Hessel.

At least, I don't remember hearing it a lot before Fight Club, and then after Fight Club, I heard it all the time.


Then you were not a thirteen-year-old who was bad at sports during the summer of 1994 or any time shortly thereafter.
posted by pineappleheart at 11:03 AM on July 9 [9 favorites]


Seriously, of all the things for people to latch onto, this is the worst, because it is always used as some sort of weird derision of people who are running. Most recently, I heard it while someone was running to catch the train. What the hell, people?

For whatever reason, people stopped wanting to yell "Go O.J. go!" at runners about six months after this movie came out.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:05 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


Is there anything anymore that can be evaluated on its own merits instead of being view through political/cultural war optics?

I find this question incomprehensible. You want me to talk about my reaction to a movie and my opinion of it's value, but you want me to censor myself and pretend I didn't have some of the reactions I had? There are some thoughts and opinions I had about the movie that I'm not allowed to mention?

Even a narrow question like, "What did you think of the special effects" is going to be colored by the other things that were going through my head when I watched the movie. If I'm really enjoying a movie then an OK special effect is going to seem great. And if I'm so annoyed with how wrong the movie's portrayal is of LBJ, then even the special effect of inserting Tom Hanks in to the footage is going to seem more artificial and less successful.

I can understand if you find someone's point of view so alien that their opinion of a movie is useless to you, but surely that's no reason to tell them to shut up and pretend to like things the way you like them.
posted by straight at 11:11 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


I'd have to say that the elements of Forrest Gump that I still like are all pretty tied to the Lt. Dan stuff. Dan's fatalism + the movie's treatment of the plight of disabled veterans worked on a level that I didn't really feel for the rest of it, and Dan's walk through the fire of losing his purpose and his legs and his dignity and Forrest refusing to let him die until he found something, well... It's not perfectly realistic, but it's powerful and I won't really criticize that arc of the story.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:21 AM on July 9 [4 favorites]


Besides the plot and characters (heh), a big reason I had a visceral reaction to this movie was having to live through the continuous self-congratulatory media about "The Baby Boomers are turning 40! The Baby Boomers are turning 50!! What do the Boomers think about blah blah blah?" All while the economy blew and all of us in Gen X were just like... Well, this is fucking fabulous. Please tell us more about what the Boomers think about leggings.
posted by sfkiddo at 11:31 AM on July 9 [8 favorites]


I always wanted to lock Forrest and the dude from Sling Blade in a room together and see who made it out alive.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:37 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


Zemeckis seems attracted to projects that let him test out the latest in SFX in service of light comedies and sometimes yu get this and sometimes you get Death Becomes Her.
posted by The Whelk at 11:43 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


... The sociopolitical backdrop is all just a big red herring.

But in the movie political engagement is totally conflated with the inner state, so how do you separate them? If Jenny's breaking with the traditions of her time period and engaging in activism are supposed to contrast with Forest Gump's decent but blithely apolitical stumbling through life, and Jenny's fate is to end up a dead, with a stint as an HIV+ single mother whose previous partner hit her, while Forest Gump ends up wealthy, influential, and famous, what are we supposed to make of that? Can we really say there's absolutely nothing political about drawing that distinction?
posted by en forme de poire at 11:45 AM on July 9 [10 favorites]


"The Baby Boomers are turning 40! The Baby Boomers are turning 50!! What do the Boomers think about blah blah blah?" All while the economy blew and all of us in Gen X were just like... Well, this is fucking fabulous. Please tell us more about what the Boomers think about leggings.



The Baby Boomers are turning 70!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:59 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


The Baby Boomers Are Turning Into Things! Horrible Shambling Mounds!
posted by The Whelk at 12:12 PM on July 9 [13 favorites]




Is it still okay to unironically like "Castaway"?

Castaway is the very best movie about a divorce ever made.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:17 PM on July 9


When I watch this movie I'm not thinking about what the director is trying to say about American society or the Vietnam era or Civil Rights or any of that.

Fair enough, we all do that, lord knows I've watched The Great Muppet Caper a brazilian times without reflecting on what it says about class distinctions in mid-1980s London, but it seems like Forrest Gump is specifically designed for uncritical viewing; it's maximizing the comfort-factor of American culture. "As long as I, and the people I love, and in this case the hero Forrest Gump, are okay, then the outside world and the messages of history don't matter," it says to us. It doubles up the simple schmaltzy hero and his uncomprehension of the world with a light touch and predictable emotional outcomes. We enjoy it because we already want to be Forrest ourselves, to care only about the close things that we understand, and to be oblivious to turmoil and horror in the world beyond that.

Also in Castaway, where Wilson washes off the raft in the storm and Tom Hanks is all like WILLLLSOOON NOOOOO I laughed out loud and my family looked at me like I had just kicked a puppy. (I am a terrible person maybe but c'mon it was absurdly funny in a way aww don't look at me like that)
posted by daisystomper at 1:24 PM on July 9 [1 favorite]


The Baby Boomers Are Turning Into Things! Horrible Shambling Mounds!

Again!
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:25 PM on July 9


The Great Muppet Caper a brazilian times

So you watched it once but should have watched it at least seven times?

Too soon? ;)
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:26 PM on July 9 [6 favorites]


it's maximizing the comfort-factor of American culture. "As long as I, and the people I love, and in this case the hero Forrest Gump, are okay, then the outside world and the messages of history don't matter," it says to us.

And? So what if it focuses only on the well-being of the characters and not the outside world? It's a movie. One aspect of movies is that they offer an escape. With all the things in this world and opportunities to tease out and criticize history, why does this movie need to be the place for it?

Would you contend that something is inherently wrong unless it is critical of history or the way things are?

Maybe you are only saying that you didn't care for the movie because it lacked weight. If that's your point, then I agree: fluff isn't interesting because it is fluff.

But if your point is similar to certain views above (and the post) that it is bad precisely because it does not make the appropriate political/social judgments about things, that's what drives me crazy. Not everything needs to be a political/social statement. Not everything needs to be forced into a box of us vs them. It's not a political enemy to hate because it chooses to not take a side.

Recently, about half of the criticism I see of the film is of the writing, the schmaltz of it, and other things that I perceive to be criticism of a film qua film. And the other half comes across as anger because the film doesn't advance the person's political/social worldview as if that were the point of the movie (which it isn't). It's part of this obnoxious trend to politicize everything. Virtually nothing any more can be enjoyed/disliked/discussed without being politicized. I feel like if I say I like orange juice someone will pipe up about how I support abuse of migrant farmers. It's so damn annoying.
posted by dios at 1:43 PM on July 9 [5 favorites]


Forrest Gump is one of a very few movies that I've had a visceral, negative reaction to (Fight Club was another).

I'm very curious who else besides me & The Card Cheat falls into that Venn diagram section of people who had intense bad reactions to both Forrest Gump and Fight Club. (Because ugh, those movies.)
posted by epersonae at 1:45 PM on July 9 [4 favorites]


I was never a huge Hanks fan, but having to watch this movie with my mother (who loved it, except for the cursing and sex parts) solidified my "meh" into hatred

I used to really like the early, shouty comedic Tom Hanks but haven't been a fan of Serious Actor Tom Hanks.
posted by Hoopo at 2:30 PM on July 9


The Tom Hanks antidote to Forrest Gump isn't Road to Perdition, it's Captain Phillips.

Hanks definitely got robbed of an Oscar there. And Barkhad Abdi.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 2:33 PM on July 9


So what if it focuses only on the well-being of the characters and not the outside world? It's a movie.

Yes! You're right! Deep breaths! You're absolutely right about movies offering escapes. You're also right that we can enjoy things without demanding they take explicit political positions all the time. That's exactly what most movies DO.

What I think is bothering myself and some others in this thread about Forrest Gump speclfically is that it presents itself as being neutral to any political view, as Forrest floats through history; but there is an argument to be made that downplaying opinions about history or politics is itself an insidious political angle. "Family values" get twisted and exploited by ultraconservatives into "keep your eyes on your own kids and lawn! don't think about larger social issues! all social programs are atheist communism!" And Forrest Gump is all about family and love winning over the social chaos in the background (and foreground). It's about the return to the farm and a wedding making things right at last (except Jenny dies anyway). It's also about how Forrest himself is unaffected largely by the world. I don't begrudge anyone for enjoying the film, but I would not say that Forrest Gump is neutral and says nothing about the relationship of the individual to the society at large.
posted by daisystomper at 2:37 PM on July 9 [2 favorites]


@epersonae

I also instantly loathed Fight Club. Mostly because of Tyler Durden's odious nihilism being insufficiently repudiated.

---

@dios

The problem is that everything is political. It can't help but be, because it's produced by a society which is shaped by cultural trends and which establish the base ground on which political disputes occur. And when you get something like Forrest Gump that pretends to be above politics when that in itself IS a political statement (and this fact therefore renders the claim to be above all of that disingenuous), it becomes really irritating. I can embrace a movie that is nothing but escapism, but you've got to be careful with your framing.
posted by Scattercat at 2:53 PM on July 9


I have never seen forrest gump but it sounds like I probably wouldn't care for it much. I did see Fight Club a few years ago and I was left distinctly unimpressed. If it wasn't such a phenomenon I would have shrugged it off like I have many shitty netflix movies I've watched on a whim. As it stands, I'm pretty baffled. It is not a good movie, and it is entirely undeserving of its following.

I remember thinking that the collapsing buildings was a fantasy or dream sequence because there was no way that group of jerks would pull off that many major terrorist strikes at the same time, but then the movie ended and joke was on me I guess.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 3:37 PM on July 9


I've said it before - the movie is not the book, and the book is something else indeed.
posted by IndigoJones at 3:57 PM on July 9


When Forest Gump came out I was working in a class for Developmentally Delayed junior high kids. I never saw it, but I hated that film, because the biggest, most annoying bully of the class would intone Gump's lines: "Life is like a box of chocolates" or "Stupid is stupid does.". I don't like to think about why somebody would show that film to a 13 year-old, but he annoyed me, and I learned to loath that film just from the bits he repeated at random.

Fortunately despite his pleading we never showed that film in class. Instead we would watch about fifteen minutes of "Aladdin" or "Beethovan". Those were long fifteen minutes, dragging on while we aids waited, praying for the meltdown or fight that would end the movie. "And then that kid would intone "Life is like a box of chocolates. Fuck.

But then later Weird Al made Gump, which kind of made things better.
posted by happyroach at 4:06 PM on July 9


I find Tom Hanks' acting literally unbearable to watch and have for as long as I can remember. Any movie I see with him in it, I basically can't remember the plot or any of the other performances because the whole time I am telling myself to breathe and not smash anything.

As such, while I am certain I did see Forrest Gump at least once in middle school, because my school orchestra played music from it and we typically got to watch any movie from which we played soundtrack bits multiple times whenever we had substitute teachers, I have no recollection of it beyond gritting my teeth and loathing Tom Hanks. So...I guess I hate Forrest Gump too, but I think I would probably hate it even if it were really great.

I wish someone could explain to me why Tom Hanks is so beloved. What movies should I watch to understand that?
posted by town of cats at 4:28 PM on July 9


I wish someone could explain to me why Tom Hanks is so beloved. What movies should I watch to understand that?

I was really into Bachelor Party as a kid, but not sure how it holds up.
posted by The Gooch at 4:44 PM on July 9


Joe Versus the Volcano
posted by P.o.B. at 4:44 PM on July 9 [5 favorites]


1. I vastly prefer Weird Tom Hanks and wish he made more movies in that mode.

2. This might as well be the thread where I mention that Gentleman Caller's first name is Forest. With one R. For a long time, people kept doubling the Rs in his name, and I have a feeling this stupid movie might have played a role in that misapprehension. Whenever anyone asks if Gentleman Caller's first name is spelled "like Gump", I have to say, "no, actually, like Forest Whitaker, and also, he's in MENSA." For that reason alone, I kind of hate the movie.
posted by pxe2000 at 4:50 PM on July 9


I wish someone could explain to me why Tom Hanks is so beloved.

Apollo 13 is in all time top 10's of a lot of people I know. I don't know anybody who admits to liking F. G. but damn it sold a bunch of tickets.
posted by bukvich at 5:43 PM on July 9 [1 favorite]


I may be in the minority here, but I didn't see Forrest Gump in quite the political lens that everyone is jumping on. I mean, I agree, it is a kind of conservative baby boomer fantasy of Our Time, with the hippie bashing and faux anti-war (but really anti-left) ethos.

But I enjoyed this movie for the technical filmmaking achievements. I'm a Robert Zemeckis fan anyway, and I just really like the camerawork and the snappy, poppy pace to it (most of it, anyway, there are some parts that drag). I like how the special effects are done to draw attention away from the effect, to make things seem more real.

I don't have to like the film's message to enjoy its mere craftsmanship.
posted by zardoz at 6:12 PM on July 9 [1 favorite]


Is there some other Forrest Gump movie that I haven't seen? Because the one I saw didn't deserve anything near the vitriol displayed in this thread.

On the bright side, you apparently read Jezebel, so I don't have to.
posted by pmurray63 at 8:34 PM on July 9 [5 favorites]


I enjoyed Cast Away for the Trojan horse trick of smuggling an art house movie -- one actor, no sets, no soundtrack -- onto 3000 screens by wrapping it in a flimsy disguise of a plane crash and Helen Hunt for about fifteen minutes at either end.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:56 PM on July 9 [6 favorites]


I haven't seen Forrest Gump in twenty years, but I remember really liking Jenny and getting pretty invested in her. I felt her story was far more interesting, but we had to run around watching the world through Forrest's eyes, and I just didn't care about that guy.

There's one bit in FG that really stayed with me. It's this brief scene after her 1970s cocaine party where Jenny got on the ledge in her teetering high heels and contemplates jumping. The despair on her face, the feeling that she has nothing to offer the world-- along with the sheer desire to just jump-- really hit me.

Anyway, I thought Robin Wright really gave a great, underrated performance in FG. I've forgotten everything else about the movie, but I still remember that scene.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 2:19 AM on July 10 [4 favorites]


I wish someone could explain to me why Tom Hanks is so beloved.

People have shit tastes and Hanks offers an easily understandable simulacrum of an actor.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:02 AM on July 10


The film adaptation of Forrest Gump took the satire out of the book and put it into the Hollywood establishment's reaction to the film. It was a highly satirical piece of performance art on a massive scale enacted by the ticket buying public, reviewers and the Academy Awards panel. Or what MartinWisse said, People have shit tastes and Hanks Gump offers an easily understandable simulacrum of a n actor film with a heart.
posted by asok at 5:49 AM on July 10 [1 favorite]


Joe Versus the Volcano

A deeply weird film. Although it gets spectacularly 1980s Temple-of-Doom "native savages" racist once he finally gets to the volcano.

AND SPOILER happy ending, EXCEPT for the inhabitants of the island?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:12 PM on July 10


> I don't have to like the film's message to enjoy its mere craftsmanship.

I agree. Triumph of the Will is an amazing film.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:41 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]


I have to admit, I did not expect a Forrest Gump thread to be Godwinned. At least it took a while. ;)
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:21 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]


A deeply weird film. Although it gets spectacularly 1980s Temple-of-Doom "native savages" racist once he finally gets to the volcano.

I dunno. The natives were supposed to be the descendants of a slave ship carrying Jews and Celts that sank near the island, which is why the natives sing Hava Nagila to the tune of When Johnny Came Marching home.

As an Irish Jew, I sort of loved it.
posted by maxsparber at 2:51 PM on July 10 [3 favorites]


Thing is, I actually do agree. And Triumph of the Will is actually an amazing film. Go see it.

I just think the ethical thing to do is to be aware of unpleasant message contained in the artwork, and if you still enjoyit , then acknowledge both the enjoyment and the problems. Which is kind of what zardoz does.

It's the people who say that the implicit messages don't exist, that it's just entertainment, that I have a hard time respecting.
posted by benito.strauss at 3:14 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]


I really like Forrest Gump too, though I guess I don't really mind being emotionally manipulated by movies.

I guess I didn't get the message that the outcome of the movie is about how things should be. It's not that Jenny deserved to die, it's that the world was stacked against her and everything she tried to do to make herself a life wasn't enough to make it work. That happens. There are a lot of things in the movie that are actually pretty bleak social commentary, like Forrest's mom trading sex to get Forrest a place in school.

And then, yes, Forrest achieves pretty much everything that society celebrates in a "man", but he is in some ways counter cultural because it's pretty clear that none of that is what matters or what is meaningful to him. What matters to him is love - his mother, Jenny, both of whom he loses, Captain Dan, and in the end of the film, his and Jenny's son.
posted by Salamandrous at 6:54 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


I guess it can be seen as an indictment of privilege. That a white man, even with a low IQ, just needs to exist in America and all sorts of amazing and important things will happen to him, including fortunes falling on his head, while a woman who aggressively pursues her own goals and tries to better the world will be relentlessly beat down by the men in her life, turned into a sex object, and eventually die an unearned and unfair death.

I've never thought about it this way before. I may have to rewatch it to see if it supports this interpretation.
posted by maxsparber at 10:10 AM on July 11 [3 favorites]


Joe Vs. the Volcano is so very great. Except for a few parts that suck, namely in the final act. But what quotable lines. I'm surprised it doesn't seem to have the cult following it deserves.

"I know he can get the job, but can he do the job? I'm not arguing with you!"

"They just pay me to drive the limo, sir. I'm not here to tell you who you are."

"Brain cloud." "A brain cloud?"

"Have you thought much about luggage, Mr. Banks?"
Joe Banks: "No."
Luggage Salesman: "It's the central preoccupation of my life."
posted by zardoz at 2:59 PM on July 11


I didn't get any message from Forrest Gump; I didn't register its supposed agenda or themes. I didn't interpret it. It was an enjoyable Hollywood movie. It was funny and sad and had a good soundtrack and some fancy special effects. I was a teenager and I bought popcorn and Coke. It's just a movie, guys.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 6:17 AM on July 12


It's just a movie, guys.

Yes, it is just an exemplar of the major driving global cultural force of the 20th Century. Thanks for noticing.
posted by Etrigan at 7:30 AM on July 12 [3 favorites]


I didn't get any message from Forrest Gump; I didn't register its supposed agenda or themes. I didn't interpret it.

Yes, that's all well and good. You can choose not to interpret it if you like. What you can't do with any success is instruct others in how they are supposed to react to the film.
posted by johnofjack at 5:34 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


town of cats: "I wish someone could explain to me why Tom Hanks is so beloved. What movies should I watch to understand that?"

I believe the episode of Family Ties where he drunkenly punches Michael J. Fox is his magnum opus.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:25 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


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