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Forrest Gump - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Forrest Gump
Well, duncatra copped to disliking Forrest Gump, so I'll be brave and admit that for years, I'd just rolled my eyes at the thought of it, and last night, finally decided to watch it... and disliked it a whole lot more than I expected to. I finished watching it the way I finished reading unpleasant assigned books during school. I thought I ought to.

There were just so many things that I disliked about it. The plot was a meandering mess, the "kisses with history" overblown and irritating (Quantum Leap overdid such kisses, and it looks positively subtle in comparison), and the emotion well over the line into Hallmark-level sentimentality.

But what bothered me most were the characters. I loathed them. I can't think of anyone in the thing that I liked. Forrest was so annoyingly self-righteous and just irritating that it was like nails on a blackboard all the way through. Lieutenant Dan, though slightly less irritating, is just as self-righteous.

Most of all, though, Jenny is despicable. Yeah, sorry, she got abused. Fine. But she spent the whole movie taking advantage of Forrest, humiliating herself, being self-righteous despite this, doing the drama queen thing, and then, my favorite pet peeve of all time, GETTING PREGNANT AND NOT TELLING THE FATHER. Didn't give him the slightest choice about whether or not to step up to the plate, didn't give him the chance to know his child, and would have continued to deny him this chance if she hadn't gotten AIDS. Forrest may have irritated me, but nothing in his behavior suggested that he would have been irresponsible if she'd trusted him.

All of this behavior, of course, has no real emotional consequence, because it's Forrest, and he never thinks anything bad about her, but boy, was I thinking nasty thoughts about the hateful bitch. What a filthy, cheating betrayal of trust. And I don't even like the person she was betraying... I just would feel that for anyone on whom such a dirty trick had been played. Now, maybe if they'd gone into the fact that it was a filthy betrayal, it would have been interesting, even if Forrest remained clueless, but no. Forrest goes, "Yippee," Jenny goes, "I'm sick, let's get married," and they get married, and the movie, for no emotional reason, then treats Jenny like she's been a great angel who is now being taken, and who the audience is presumably meant to mourn with great buckets of saltwater. How does this make emotional sense?

Grrr. Of all the overhyped, overrated movies...


Well, at least I've now watched it.
28 comments or Leave a comment
delleve From: delleve Date: September 4th, 2005 03:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm gonna have to disagree with you, Fern. I got the impression that you were supposed to dislike Jenny and were supposed to be angry/feel sorry for Forrest for continuing to chase after her. It's sad, but things like this happen in life all the time. Jenny was a bitch, I've got no problem whatsoever agreeing with that, but you can't argue that it wasn't real.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 4th, 2005 03:48 am (UTC) (Link)
The tone of the script and the filming of it mitigate against the idea that we're supposed to feel anything other than great grief for her. Beloved wife, Forrest crying, and so on. The author obviously thinks of Forrest as the "simple truth"--the person who sees everything and everyone more clearly than the "bright people" do (which, honestly, also irritates me).
delleve From: delleve Date: September 4th, 2005 03:56 am (UTC) (Link)
But that's what I think makes the movie so heart-breaking -- how blinded Forrest was by her. Despite everything, he still saw Jenny as the girl who'd let him sit next to her on the bus while no one else would. He was blinded and I thought the writer/director made that fairly clear.

We'll just agree to disagree, then. XD
galaxianomiko From: galaxianomiko Date: September 4th, 2005 03:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I think the feather annoyed me the most in this film. Particularly at the end, where it's this hideous CG-ed fake-looking thing suspended in front of the camera for like five minutes, as though the movie didn't have enough thoroughly contrived emotional bits in it already.
From: gunderpants Date: September 4th, 2005 03:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Amen. It's like it was a film expressly written to win an Oscar with its overall PC-ness, condescending attitude to the disabled and abused, and just about everything on the checklist for Oscar Movies (the disabled, the mentally incapacitated, AIDS, child abuse, suicide themes, etc). Sure, make a movie about the disabled, or about people facing huge odds, but don't pander and patronise and paint them like fucking saints and make the whole thing corny, contrived and artificial to the nth.
From: st_sophie Date: September 4th, 2005 07:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Totally offtopic, but....

Icon Love!

I'm going to miss that show...

So, at what age did you know you were hot? hehehe...

~ Sophie
stephantom From: stephantom Date: September 4th, 2005 04:16 am (UTC) (Link)
I think it's definitely a film that has been completely over-rated, but I don't hate it. The characters can all be annoying, but people aren't perfect... I also think that you were supposed to be irritated with Jennie, but admire Forrest for loving her unconditionally. Also, I don't think she intentionally hid little Forrest from him - it would have been pretty hard to contact him during those 3 or 4 years when he was running across the country. And when she does contact him, little Forrest is only about 4 or 5, so. I don't think she intended to keep it a secret from him.

Anyway, I'll agree that it's not nearly the great movie it's hyped up to be, but, still, I've enjoyed it before.
barbara_the_w From: barbara_the_w Date: September 4th, 2005 04:28 am (UTC) (Link)
The opening line sent me into a snarling rage the first time I heard it.

Life is NOT like a box of chocolates, you frickin' idiot. On a box of chocolates you know exactly what you're getting -- 'CAUSE IT'S PRINTED ON THE INSIDE OF THE LID!

From: arclevel Date: September 4th, 2005 04:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Depends which brand of chocolates you buy. Although if you eat enough, you can recognize a lot of them by sight, or at least get an idea -- truffles vs coconut cluster vs chocolate-covered cherry, for instance. Not that I've eaten too many chocolates in my life. ;-)
cambryn From: cambryn Date: September 4th, 2005 05:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Of course, if you have the IQ of room temperature then life may just be like a box of choc-oh-lates.
From: arclevel Date: September 4th, 2005 05:31 am (UTC) (Link)
That's another distinct possibility, yes. :-)
From: arclevel Date: September 4th, 2005 04:56 am (UTC) (Link)
I really, really liked the movie the first couple times I saw it. Of course, I was 14 at the time, so that may have been a factor. Even then I think I *recognized* that it was severely emotionally contrived, and I'm pretty sure I thought Jenny was generally a bitch, or at least unworthy of Forrest's devotion. I just don't think I really cared. I haven't seen it in years, but I haven't really *wanted* to rewatch it, which I suppose says something. Perhaps it's best watched as a giant montage, of sorts. Like reading a book of short stories about the same set of characters as opposed to a novel about them.

(My cat seems to be intently reading this post as I write it. She's choosing not to express an opinion on Forrest Gump, though.)
lannamichaels From: lannamichaels Date: September 4th, 2005 05:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I like parts of it, but I have to agree with you about Jenny. Yes, she had a horrible childhood. That still doesn't excuse what she does. She takes advantage of Forrest at every turn. We're seeing it from his eyes, so it's with the most positive bent, and it's still disturbing.

And the brushes with history bother me a lot just on a suspension-of-disbelief thing. I can't suspend my disbelief enough to not boggle every time they happen.
cambryn From: cambryn Date: September 4th, 2005 05:26 am (UTC) (Link)
I actually like this movie a lot, while at the same time hating major parts of it.
I know, it sounds like I'm just staying in the middle, but there are some parts that I really love. The humour is probably what I like the most. There are so many moments that made me laugh out loud (of course, sometimes it was inapproriate to laugh... but I tend to do that at movies.)

What I didn't like was being preached to: how every one became saintly in I NEVER cared for Jenny, past her 'run Forrest' moments because of how she used someone as simple and nice as Forrest, and continued on in her 'use and abuse' ways until she finally 'got her comeuppance' and 'saw the light.' I suppose it was their way of showing how people can be flawed, but redeemed later... or something. I suppose Jenny was mourned because Forrest loved her. He saw what good there was in her and loved it, and as he had the IQ of room temperature, that tiny bit of good was enough for him to never contemplate her flaws.

Overall, I like the film, but think all of your criticism has definite merit.
story645 From: story645 Date: September 4th, 2005 05:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I liked it for the most part, agree with what someone else said about Jenny that it seemed more like we were just supposed to feel bad for Forrest.
Major peeve of mine too. Just read a fic where Tonx gets pregnant and has an abortion, all without telling the father, and kind of wanted to yell at the author. I think it's just part of the culture though. "Our bodies, our choice" and all that nonsense. It's great. People complain that fathers are not involved, or that the blame all falls on the girl for being pregnant, (takes two to tango), yet our culture gives the mother full rights over the fate of the child. No patience for the absurd double standard.
From: tunxeh Date: September 4th, 2005 05:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Sounds like I should continue to roll my own eyes at the thought of it, rather than bothering to add it to my netflix queue. Thanks for the review.
alphabet26 From: alphabet26 Date: September 4th, 2005 06:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Okay, pronouns are not necessarily your friend. Let's try that again.

Yeah, most of my knowledge of the movie comes from "Weird" Al's parody. And I knew Forrest had a son, though. Didn't Haley Joel Osment play the son or something?

And, yeah, totally agree with you on the major pet peeve. I just can't even wrap my mind around the concept that it's perfectly all right to chain a man to a child for the next 18 years (when it might not even be his--the woman's word is enough) and also perfectly all right to never tell him and never give him the choice.
miss_eponine From: miss_eponine Date: September 4th, 2005 01:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Have you ever read the book? The movie may have pushed the edge of believability, but the book goes so far past any kind of plausibility. If I recall correctly (I read it about 10 years ago), Forrest not only does all the amazing things that he does in the movie, he also becomes an astronaut, crash lands in the jungle returning from space, befriends a gorrilla and stars in a movie. I know there's more, but that's what stuck out in my mind. It doesn't even pretend to attempt realism.

But the movie, I haven't seen it in years, but the one scene that I love is the one at the reflecting pool in DC. But I'm a sucker for veterans returning home and reuniting with their friends/family. It gets me every time.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 4th, 2005 03:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I totally agree, what a disappointment. I was the only person I knew when the movie came out that didn't LOVE it. Now, years later, I know tons. So, did they hide it back then due to peer pressure or what???? :) Mary
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 4th, 2005 03:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
FWIW, my mother loathed it at the time and was very offended that a stupid man and a fickle woman were supposed to be the great film statement about her generation.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: September 4th, 2005 06:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
stupid man and a fickle woman were supposed to be the great film statement about her generation.

Isn't he mentally retarded or something? If so, "stupid" is a little harsh.. no offense.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 4th, 2005 07:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
The movie goes out of its way to say he's just "slow" and should be treated as we'd treat anyone else. So if he behaves stupidly, I'll call him on it. (At any rate, the quote was my mother's more than mine. She was deeply embarrassed by the movie.)
bakednudel From: bakednudel Date: September 5th, 2005 12:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I know this is old, but I have to say: I never saw this movie, and I never will (unless I end up tied to a chair in some old folks' home, which of course could happen). Even the trailers made my eyes roll.

Of course, other hatreds (that I did get dragged to anyway): Steel Magnolias and that one with Jack Nicholson as the astronaut-next-door. See, I've even blocked he name of it.

UGH. Hate the contrived emotion. (and the fake southern accents, but that's a whole nother rant)
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: September 5th, 2005 01:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've always thought that the hallmark of an inferior actor is that s/he is only ever good at the big melodramatic/disabled/retarded/abused roles. Anybody can emote... It takes extraordiary acting skills to take an "ordinary" role and make *that* memorable. The movie I watched most recently that's just brilliant in this respect: Before Sunset, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Both are brilliant, the script is truly genius, and it was a hell of a movie.

(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 5th, 2005 05:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I haven't been able to get through Contact yet. I'll have to wait until it's on when I have a few things to multitask on.
honormac From: honormac Date: September 5th, 2005 08:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
(Nearly random commenter here... I wandered in here via a link in a friend's journal.)

First, I want to thank you for helping me to avoid seeing this movie for a while longer... Possibly even permanantly. A friend of mine has lately been telling me how 'good' (as opposed to wonderful or anything) it is and how I really have to just give it a chance. Screw that.

Second, though - and this is probably where you really begin an instant and initial dislike of me... sorry - I really don't get / can't in all conscience agree with your major peeve.

There's a lot more I'd say to explain or make the case for my views on this, but I don't want to leave this -gigantic-, argumentative comment all over your journal the first time I e-meet you, So I'll just post it in my journal, and if you're interested you can read it, ok? :-)
sophonax From: sophonax Date: September 6th, 2005 12:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Mostly agreed--it's one of the nastiest examples of movies where you're supposed to like the characters because of the things that happen to them, not because of anything they actually do. It's obnoxious.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: September 8th, 2005 02:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

I didn't mind Forrest Gump so much. Yeah I know it was all an obvious play on our sympathies ( I read the book, not much alike, I noticed too) but it wasn't thatbad. Nor was Jenny. Lots of people who are anti-Star Wars and anti-Anakin/Vader could use a lot of your arguments about her against Anakin Skywalker. After all, he spent most of the OT whining about the one man who defied the Council to train him, did the whole drama king thing went he turned to the dark side, and then [my] favourite pet peeve of all, CHOKED HIS WIFE, MADE HER DIE OF A BROKEN HEART, TORTURED HIS DAUGHTER AND HAND-CASTRATED HIS SON!.... And to wrap it all up, the movie, for no emotional reason, then treats [Anakin] like [he's] been a great angel who is now being taken, and who the audience is presumably meant to mourn with great buckets of saltwater. How does this make emotional sense?

Grrr. Of all the overhyped, overrated movies...

::Fern, this was a [somewhat] joke::
28 comments or Leave a comment