Forrest Gump– Quarantine Rewatch

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?

Mad Men s2e7: The Gold Violin

“Like the song says, Enjoy yourself — it’s later than you think.”

Don is pondering buying a new car from Breaking Bad’s Elliott at the Caddy dealership. Seeing a guy like Don Draper walk into a Cadillac dealership must spell out ‘instant sale’ to salesman Wayne. From his outward appearance — impeccably tailored suit, polished shoes, not a hair out of place — Don is a guy who wants the whole world to regard him highly, and what better way to do that than with the ultimate status symbol of a Cadillac?

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image courtesy of Pinterest

Flashback to the 1950s when Don was a bright-eyed used car salesman with big hair and a frumpy suit and tie. He hasn’t yet mastered sales, as he can’t quite close the current deal. A mystery blonde comes to see him and asks for him by name, appears puzzled that it’s this guy in front of her. She then reveals that she knows he’s not Don Draper.

G A S P

Back to the Cadillac dealership, Don has second thoughts and splits. Does he deserve a Cadillac? Wayne is peeved and surprised.

Because of how much Don impressed the Martinson coffee guys with Kurt and Smitty’s youthful jingle and his pitch, Cooper has let him know the door has opened for him to sit on the board at the Museum of Early American Folk Art, to be among “the few people that get to decide what will happen in our world.” In so many words, Don has arrived. And now he needs to act the part, fancy Cadillac in tow.

Now, here’s the rub with ‘Making It In America(TM)’; you’ve got to keep it up, with intense fervour. Shiny, top of the line new car every few years, perfect partner, marriage, and immaculate home.. and well-behaved kids who don’t jam Play-Doh in the nice leather seats of the Cadillac. The higher you climb that mountain, more people will be hanging out at every single goddamned precipice to knock you down.

And, we’re back to the Cadillac dealership. Don confidently buys that Caddy! At the same time, Jimmy Barrett is ringing the Draper house to let Betty know they’re invited to a big shindig for Grin and Barrett being picked up. To top it off, Betty is pleased that Don bought the car. He deserves it since he works so hard.

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image courtesy of Butterfly Mind

Word on the street is that Cooper’s got a Rothko painting in his office, which is generally off limits. After hours, Jane sneaks Kenny, Sal and Harry into the office. Sal notices Ken’s depth when he’s talking about the painting; how it evokes a feeling, it’s nothing super concrete or obvious. It just is. Kenny notices Sal isn’t like everyone else in the office, and gives him a new story to read.

Somehow Joan hears about their painting escapade, and sacks Jane on the spot. Joan feels as though she’s being replaced with a younger, sassier version of herself, and she’s pissed off. On her way out, Jane cleverly pops by Roger’s office to say goodbye and gets un-fired, remembering his attraction to her. Magical.

The truth about the Rothko is revealed! Harry meets with Cooper to go over some media numbers, and Cooper’s brief explanation is pretty in line with what we know about him.

“People buy things to realise their aspirations, it’s the foundation of our business. Between you me and the lamp post, that thing should double in value by next Christmas.”

Sal and Kitty have Kenny over for dinner that weekend, and it’s awkward as hell. Sal pretty much ignores his wife to pay attention to Ken, yapping about the story he wrote. He’s like a teenager with a crush, and Kitty tries her best to include herself. It’s actually pretty sad, watching as Kitty feels alone in her own home.

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image courtesy of Popsugar

Kenny’s story is inspired by a piece he saw at The Met. The Gold Violin itself is meant to illustrate that in some cases no matter how lovely and perfect something looks, it simply cannot work. It’s a status symbol, it’s gorgeous and stunning and flawfree, but ultimately worthless. Take a gander at Betty and Don, or Sal and Kitty for that matter.

The Draper family takes the new Cadillac out for a Sunday picnic, and leave behind an hysterical amount of trash in the process. Don launches a beer can to see how far he can throw it! Ha. The Draper picnic is a beautiful scene that glosses over the complete disorder and mess that is that family.

trashpicnic

image courtesy of Salient

And then you see Betty and Don breezily leaving a pile of fucking ruination behind, a heap of literal garbage in their apathetic wake. It’s a jarring dénouement to what looks to be a wholesome, pristine family activity.

It’s party time! These scenes are uncomfortable as all hell. Jimmy spots Betty, they make small talk and then shit gets mad real.

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image courtesy of Popcritics

After they’ve had a few, he cuts to the chase. “What do you think happened between the two of them?” Though simultaneously offended and mortified, Betty hears what Jimmy is saying. He plants the seed and confirms her nagging suspicion that Don is unfaithful to her. After all, they both know how to read the people they’ve married, and see how neither seem to be bothered that their respective spouses are nowhere in sight.

At the coat check, Don is getting ready to split and Jimmy delivers some shrill realness. Whether he’s pissed he doesn’t actually have a shot with Betty or that Don and Bobbie had a few bangs, we’ll never know.

Jimmy: “You know what I like about you? Nothing! But it’s okay. You got me everything I wanted. What did you get? Bobbie? Lots of people have had that.”

Don: “Excuse me?”

Jimmy: “Please. I laugh at you. I go home at night and I laugh at you.”

Don: “I don’t know what you think happened.”

Jimmy: “You. You wanna step out, fine. Go to a whore. You don’t screw another man’s wife. You’re garbage. And you know it.”

Don looks completely disgusted and offended, but also like he’s about to cry. He knows deep down that Jimmy ain’t wrong about him being garbage. As much as Don is a human dumpster fire who can be so incredibly antagonistic at times, I feel for him in this scene. Even though he excels at compartmentalising his life — keeping being the best bang in the city separate from being adored by his kids, has a great job but also fucks around — he can’t quite grasp that American Dream he’s scratching at. He’s flawed, like all of us, and he knows it.

Don and Betty drive home in stunned silence.

And natch, Betty voms in the new Cadillac.