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The Mountain Times

« Get Off My Lawn | Main | Holy Shit, John Updike Is Dead »

January 26, 2009


Oh my. It's been a long time since I watched FORREST GUMP, but I can admit there was a time when I ate movies like that right up. But for CCBB to be not only shamelessly saccharine but also a shameless retread is enough to convince me I don't need this particular rendition of the same old crap.

All the same, I think there might be a need for discussion about the merits of that same old crap because I think you'd not have linked to this video (hilarious, BTW) if you didn't hold both films in such low esteem. I can guess at your disgust, but it remains true that some movies of this sort (FORREST GUMP among them) succeed where others fail in conjuring up their intended feelings of triumph and perseverance and the rest. Not that these successes hold up to wider scrutiny--indeed, the cultural contribution of such movies is probably worse than nil because they are possibly a distraction from the suckiness of life--but that we should perhaps appreciate what is done well when a movie captures an audience's imagination and tugs at the right strings. It cannot merely be stupidity which accounts for the appeal of FORREST GUMP, or can it be? Or, even if I might agree that it is ultimately stupid, is there not a difference between a (stupidly) uplifting play featuring sympathetic heroes and fantastic moments and one that just doesn't inspire at all? The import of this difference (at least the one I'd like to think I could submit if only FORREST GUMP or another movie like it were fresher in my mind) could be that some of these movies are worth watching, and thus worthy of having been made, and others are not, so I'd like to know how you feel (both generally and about FORREST GUMP in particular) on that very question. Is it possible to make a good movie of this type, and is FORREST GUMP one?

Ha, my most interesting comment in months is about shit filmmaking. Sorry dude.

I liked Forrest Gump a lot when I saw it at age seven or eight, and I still think it's much better than The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It's openly maudlin and, at the same time, covertly mean-spirited, which makes it even worse, but it's well-paced and eventful and easy to watch. Zemeckis has a breezy comic touch, and although I don't recall any of the sequences being very good, he moves from situation to situation quickly enough that the movie never really becomes unbearable. Still, it's offensively insipid, and I don't wish ever to watch it again. It's about as well-executed as a movie of this type can be without becoming a movie of another type, but this is not enough for me to call it "good."

There's something I'd like to note before we move forward. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is similar to Forrest Gump in its plot and often in its tone, but there is an important difference: It isn't uplifting, and by that I don't mean simply that it fails to uplift us. The truth is that its protagonist is so unavoidably doomed that he doesn't give the movie a chance even to attempt to uplift us. There's no possibility of beating the odds for Benjamin; his story doesn't allow even for the phoniest "feelings of triumph and perseverance." For some reason Roth wrote it as if it were a sequel to Forrest Gump, and you can even imagine the cues in his screenplay for swelling orchestral music to kick in, but actually there's no reason for the music to swell. Benjamin's life sucks. Fincher seemed to recognize this, but what could he do with a script that was just as long and vapid as Forrest Gump but whose central conceit didn't permit any of Forrest Gump's life-affirming moments? No wonder The Curious Case of Benjamin Button just meanders.

With that said, I don't agree that "some movies of this sort (FORREST GUMP among them) succeed where others fail in conjuring up their intended feelings of triumph and perseverance and the rest." To me, Forrest Gump doesn't succeed here (it doesn't "tug on the right strings"), and I think any movie that does succeed in conjuring up such feelings must be of a different sort entirely. Forrest Gump is a more skillful product than most of its brethren, but none of them inspire me, and none are worth watching unless I merely require something to pass the time. The time passes more quickly with Forrest Gump than it does with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but it's wasted time either way.

When did you last see Forrest Gump? If you found it moving, that's sort of amazing to me, and I can't help but wonder how old you were when you viewed it. As I said, I loved it when I was eight.

I'd guess I last watched FORREST GUMP when I was thirteen or fourteen. Old enough to know better, probably.

That may not be old enough to know better.

Paramount must have forced Funny or Die to take down the video. Those fuckers.

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