As the boner for The Good Old Days rapidly approached critical mass in 1994, Forrest Gump debuted in theatres– I was 10 years old. It was a phenomenon, an instant hit. My social studies teacher even took us on a goddamned field trip to the movies, so I got to see Forrest show his big white ass to LBJ on the silver screen.
One morning last week I was watching The Price Is Right (because what the fuck else am I doing right now), I saw an ad that CBS was resurrecting their ~Sunday Night Movie~ as a way to Bring Everyone Together In The Face Of The Virus.. and the debut flick was of course, Forrest Gump.
image courtesy of Explore Georgia
I honestly don’t think that Gump could’ve come out at any other time; it was prime Boomer nostalgia hour, absolutely ripe pre-9/11 feelgood trash. I remember everyone going positively apeshit over the CGI (which still looks pretty damn good), the incessant shrieking for a real Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant. Have you been to one of those fucking places? There’s multiple rounds of trivia based on the movie, the soundtrack blares out of the speakers, you get nuked shrimp and watered down booze. It’s a very specific corporate restaurant hell on earth, though now I long for their menu of garbage shots and punny appetisers.
And hey, I get why people find this movie charming. It’s hard not to love Tom Hanks. My frantic yelling is not meant to diminish the performances– it’s got a powerhouse cast. Sally Field takes one for the team and audibly fucks the principal set to hold Forrest back academically, Hanks and Robin Wright are wonderful, Gary Sinise is a cynical ICON adding some much needed levity to the story, but the movie itself is DUMB AS HELL when you take even a slightly cursory look at it.
I know it’s this uplifting tale of a dude overcoming adversity and all that shit, but the expository bus bench plot device is rose coloured over the top ridiculous. The Wisdom(tm) is heavy handed and feels schlocky. The cautionary tale of DON’T BANG AROUND AND DO DRUGS, YOU WILL GET AIDS AND DIE!!!! is familiar rhetoric to all of us who went through the DARE program in the 90s.
As an added bonus, Forrest serving as this Continual Man Hero to Jenny is completely exhausting through a 2020 lens. And then she has his son, reveals this all at once and dumps it on the guy outta NOWHERE after he ran across the whole entire goddamned UNITED STATES roughly a zillion times after she fucked him and ran? GIRL! THE FUCK! Have a conversation!
And let’s be real, that poor lady next to him on the bus bench was probably like WHAT THE SHIT, YOUR FRIEND WAS BEING MOLESTED?? God on a wheel.
I’ve long said that Forrest Gump is a Baby Boomer’s wet dream. It’s a truly demented fantasy where an Average Joe stumbles his way into history and thus becomes extraordinary by association. He’s just being a wholesome dope, after all!
Forrest and his wacky leg braces INVENTED ELVIS, and then he literally runs OUT of those leg braces, breaking free, triumphant! Fuck adversity! Football star Gump meets JFK and has to piss like a racehorse! JFK, mind you, who has AN AUTOGRAPHED PHOTO OF MARILYN MONROE in the White House bathroom for no fucking reason outside of some hideous wink wink nudge nudge. Oh hey, The Vietnam War wasn’t THAT bad! He respectfully stands up to the Black Panthers! PING PONG! Forrest inspires John Lennon to write “Imagine”! FORREST BUSTS FUCKING WATERGATE WIDE OPEN, FOR FUCK’S SAKE! He inspires the ‘SHIT HAPPENS’ bumper sticker!
This is alllllll the same dude who jizzed on Jenny’s roomate’s bathrobe.
Brass tacks, do I find a sense of comfort in rewatching this movie? Sure. It’s very familiar, easy viewing that wraps up in a neat little package, but don’t look too closely for any sort of deeper meaning. Really, that’s fine. It’s Hollywood and silly and ultimately optimistic; you can’t help but love Hanks’ performance, the scene he shares with Sinise are really great. I screamed at my TV at every last Dumb Historically Significant Beat, and it felt nice to be annoyed at something that wasn’t the news for a little bit.
As much fun as it would’ve been to see Forrest hanging in the back of OJ’s white Bronco or sinking the motherfucking Exxon Valdez, at least 9/11 derailed the slated Forrest Gump sequel. So uh, thanks Bin Laden?