Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dump Gump

I was startled to read on Defamer this morning that apparently Robert Zemeckis, Tom Hanks and Eric Roth were contemplating a Forest Gump sequel shortly before 9/11. But after the terrorist attacks, the powers that be decided that a post-9/11 world had no place in it for Gump.

It's funny, Forrest Gump (a movie I've always hated) has been playing round the clock on HBO lately. And the other day I rewatched a big stretch of it.

It was pretty much as bad as I remember. But I was a little surprised at one thing: It might have been a much better movie if not for Tom Hanks' narration. The narration was good for a few jokes -- but it spelled out Forrest Gump's idiocy too starkly. It might have been a more interesting movie (and less intellectually insulting) if Hanks was a bit of a mystery. If you didn't quite know whether he was as big a fool as everyone thought he was, or if there was a mind working behind those vacant eyes.

While there have been plenty of idiots cropping up throughout literature (and while this might come off as extremely snobby) I'm still not sure I approve of the idea of making a virtue out of being unable to think for oneself. And the fact that every moment of American history from the 1960s through the 1980s was glided over in a flip, uninteresting, and cliched way, did not improve matters any. It just felt like it was pulling the necessary heartstrings at the right particular moment -- complete with the pop rock nostalgia.

A far more successful movie on a lot of the same themes (a portrait of an era through an insignificant man tramping through history, etc.) is Woody Allen's Zelig -- which is a minor masterpiece. (And which has some of the best narration in any movie ever made.)

In short, I don't think the world will be any poorer if we lose the sequel to Forrest Gump.