So I realize that this thread may become controversial, but this is something I really don’t understand. This thread is not to challenge those opinions, but just to find out what it is about this film that so many people despise. I used to love this movie, now I just enjoy it, but looking through the ratings of people I follow, I see more one and two star ratings than any film except for maybe something like Transformers. But in my normal life away from this site, most people seem to enjoy it, so I gather it’s mostly a cinephile thing.
Looking at the film’s Wall and the reviews of it, I see more people that like it, but still it seems a majority of people hate it. The two criticisms I see most is that it celebrates stupidity and that it’s sentimental. That it’s sentimental is of course a given, but still, I see many negative ratings from friends that give five stars to other sentimental ventures. The celebration of stupidity makes sense I suppose, though I see it as more a celebration of Forrest’s character rather than his stupidity. The stupidity seems like more of a storytelling trope than anything else. It serves as both the device of showing a more obvious trait of Forrest up front and then preceding to tell us more about his life (sort of a “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” type of thing), and also the comic relief of the movie.
I find the film to be very well-made, with some really excellent direction and acting, and from what I gathered out of the negative reviews of it, the technical aspects don’t seem to be a problem for the ones that hate it either.
What I really want to know are some more in-depth reasons why people hate this movie. I can understand criticisms of it, but I can’t quite get the outright hate for it, especially such a large consensus of it. Again, this is not an attack thread, just a curious thread that will hopefully bring about some good discussion.
I really enjoy sentimental films. But I felt insulted when I watched Forrest. I’ll try to expand on this issue. Just give me a bit!!
I pretty much agree with everything you wrote.
I suspect it’s more of a socio-political thing.
The celebration of stupidity makes sense I suppose, though I see it as more a celebration of Forrest’s character rather than his stupidity.
Right, and I see him in the Holy Fool archetype. I’d be interested in hearing why FG isn’t such a character. (Holy Fools don’t celebrate or advocate stupidity.)
I find the film to be very well-made, with some really excellent direction and acting…
I do love the soundtrack :)
Cast Away is a much better movie by the Zemeckis/Hanks duo.
I remember that this film won Best Picture over Pulp Fiction. Frankly, I guess I like it more than Pulp Fiction, but not by much. I found Gump to be a tearjerker and it moved me, but not really a great film. More like a decent film. It was a good film and had a nice sense of humor in it, but not one of the best pictures that have ever been made. Pulp Fiction, on the other hand, I have mentioned more than a few times on this website, that I find to be overrated and I don’t really like it that much. Gump is okay, but I don’t think it’s a film I’m going to come back to again and again to watch, when there are so much better films to be seen and ones that I would love to watch again.
I guess maybe I felt it was a bit too artificial. Like the characters weren’t likeable because they were over the top but not in a good way. And maybe it connects with the sentimental aspect. I don’t mind a sentimental film, but when it comes with a sentimental feather floating around to sentimental music I feel like the emotion is being forced on me.
But I did enjoy the film when it first came out, and it was the most quoted film on the playground. So it’s interesting that it is a film that people tend to grow out of love/like with.
i don’t hate it. i haven’t seen it at all. hate wears the brain away, so i am not taking chances, i will not watch it. ever.
Huh. So far no one seems to feel very strongly about it.
I mainly hate how episodic it is. I know it’s the point of the narrative and kind of the running gag throughout, but it really wears thin after awhile. The fantasy aspect eventually grinds at me and feels so forced. But there are some things to love in this movie (Robin Wright and Gary Sinise, the visual effects, the costume design, the soundtrack) but some things to hate (Sally Field, omg.)
Shawshank was also that year and was better than FG and PF
Jenny had dreams. She went to college, aspired to be an artist, protested the Vietnam war, fought for African-American rights, etc. As a result she wound up a miserable, diseased junkie. She eventually found happiness by giving up her dreams and embracing a traditional female role (breeding, becoming a waitress, marrying a rich moron). Forrest had no dreams or aspirations of any kind. He only ever did what other people told him to. As a result he travelled the world, participated in major historical events and became ridiculously wealthy.
That is the central message of the film: be a nice, floating feather. Don’t struggle, don’t fight, just let shit happen. If you don’t think for yourself and instead do what folks in authority tell you to then you will live happily ever after in a mansion. If you question stuff then you get AIDS and die.
Very well acted, impeccabl technical credits but it is very hard to get past the above.
Hell said, That is the central message of the film: be a nice, floating feather. Don’t struggle, don’t fight, just let shit happen. If you don’t think for yourself and instead do what folks in authority tell you to then you will live happily ever after in a mansion. If you question stuff then you get AIDS and die.
I’ve heard this reading before, and I guess this is one way of interpreting the film, but I never took home this message when I saw the film. I saw the film in the holy fool vein. FG is a decent and caring person and that’s what I think the film celebrates. If there’s a critique, it’s against the values and views relating to success and social status. If there’s a critique against intelligence, I think the film is saying that intellect is not more important than being a caring person. I have no objection to that; in fact, I wholeheartedly agree with it.
Hellshocked: I don’t know, if the characters of Jenny and Forrest were supposed to represent the norm of the people from the paths they took, then I could understand that argument, but I don’t really think that’s the case. Certainly the character of Forrest wasn’t meant to suggest that all soldiers are stupid? I think Forrest is just Forrest and Jenny is just Jenny. Jenny just isn’t a very good character and not especially likeable. She did some good things, but she also made some very poor choices. I didn’t really see that as some sort of statement about the movements that were taking place at the time. Forrest is just a more loveable character.
The lesson is, never try.
No, in all seriousness. there’s certainly a political conservatism (Forrest’s namesake was the first Grand Wizard of the KKK) and pro-passivity subtext that should be overlooked (even though Zemekis gives glossing over it all he’s got), but also, there’s something to what Jazz is saying as well, the holy fool thing. Along those lines, there’s a grand tradition in the American South of variations of this way of thinking about American history—it’s in Faulkner, it’s in Twain, it’s in O’Connor, it’s in Carson McCullers, it’s in country music, and it’s in a lot of Southern humor. Most of you are probably neither old enough or Southern enough to have ever heard of/read Lewis Grizzard, but he was a humorist who wrote for the Atlanta Constitution for many years and he often is his writing cultivated a somewhat similar version of the “out of his depth” Southerner:
The holy fool traditionally calls a spade a spade. He shouts that the Emperor is naked. Does Forrest do any of these things? He pretty much does what the emperor tells him and is rewarded as a result.
Right, in the case of Gump the “holiness” for which Gump is a fool is a discernible political position.
I think the film is saying that intellect is not more important than being a caring person. I have no objection to that; in fact, I wholeheartedly agree with it.
But IS Forrest a caring person? He pretty much only cares about things that affect him directly (his mother, Jenny, Lt. Dan, Bubba). The rest of the world he could care less about. Jenny, on the other hand…
Certainly the character of Forrest wasn’t meant to suggest that all soldiers are stupid?
Not at all. Just that unquestioning obedience makes one an amazing soldier and a hero. Even his Drill Seargent pretty much tells him that he is the perfect soldier.
>>The holy fool traditionally calls a spade a spade. He shouts that the Emperor is naked. Does Forrest do any of these things? He pretty much does what the emperor tells him and is rewarded as a result.<<
That’s the holy fool in the Shakespearian tradition (King Lear, Twelfth Night) and I was going to mention it in Jazz’ thread until I realized he was talking about a different sort of holy fool. One who is actually a fool. I find this tradition far less interesting.
Forrest Gump pretty hard to defend for me, not just for the thematic reasons given above, but also that it was just too gimicky and I found Tom Hanks’ reading performance very offputting, although most clearly disagree.
In Christian tradition as well. In that case, his calling a spade a spade is fearlessly preaching the gospel.
I find it hard to see Forrest as anything but apolitical. When he crosses paths with counter-cultural movements he gives them the same matter-of-fact recapping as he does the war. I get the feeling if he hadn’t been approached by the army recruiter he might have gone on to join Jenny in her anti-war protests.
Tom Hanks has said that these are the words that were spoken by Forrest at the Peace Rally: “Sometimes when people go to Vietnam, they go home to their mommas without any legs. Sometimes they don’t go home at all. That’s a bad thing. That’s all I have to say about that.” That seems about as far removed from taking an actual political position as a film could be.
There are many films with less merit, but if I had to pick a movie I just despise with all my being it would be Forrest Gump. And it is for many of the reasons already stated above. It is conservative propaganda.
The idea that Forrest is the true cause for all of these historical events is insulting to the people who actually were the cause of these events. Liberals in this film are portrayed as irresponsible, violent, and drug addicted. Were some like this? Sure, but as a whole they also brought about important change. But by crediting this change to Forrest they are left with only their negative traits.
Forrest is a conservative dream. He just does what his elders tell him to do and he does it with all his might. Forrest is not a good person, because he does not face what makes decisions difficult for people like Jenny. Jenny had an awful childhood and yet she still had a good enough heart to offer Forrest the seat on the bus. She is the person who should be celebrated. And the film kills her off with AIDS.
Her playing “Blowin’ in the Wind” in a strip joint is really the icing on the cake for me.
And yes the emotions are very cheap.
I tend to think he’s a caring person. His caring seems limited more by his intellectual capacity (i.e., more expansive social consciousness) than lack of compassion.
Brad said, That’s the holy fool in the Shakespearian tradition (King Lear, Twelfth Night) and I was going to mention it in Jazz’ thread until I realized he was talking about a different sort of holy fool. One who is actually a fool. I find this tradition far less interesting.
Well, I think both are interesting (although the simple-but-spiritual manifestation might appeal to me more). The holy fool need not be a prophet, castigating those in power. Sometimes a holy fool, through his/her character and actions, can more effectively repudiate and critique the establishment. That’s how I read FG.
I think that “liberals” (I say it in quotation marks because we don’t really know the political views of any of Forrest’s friends except for Jenny) are portrayed so simply because Forrest doesn’t know any of them. But I haven’t seen the movie for awhile so I don’t really remember the scenes where they show any obvious liberals. The only one I remember is the peace rally and I don’t remember any negative portrayals in that. What other scenes are there?
If that’s true then isn’t the film, on top of everything else, insulting to idiots? It’s treating them as subhumans who are unwilling and/or unable to understand anything around them.
Sometimes a holy fool, through his/her character and actions, can more effectively repudiate and critique the establishment. That’s how I read FG.
To me it seems that Forrest embodies the establishment.
Jenny’s protestor boyfriend abuses her and is just an all around asshole.
And by taking the progress away from liberals all they are left with is the drugs. haha
I don’t get this. Some people don’t really have much intellectual capacity, through no fault of their own. I don’t see how FG’s depiction is insulting to people who are mentally handicapped. FG is a hero of sorts, and I’d be much more sympathetic to criticism about an over-romantic Hollywood treatment of the character, more than the claim that the character and film celebrates stupidity.
How so? He’s mostly a social-outcast—until he displays prowess in athletics and in the military (he’s a kind of idiot savant, in that sense)—and his mental handicap is one of the main reasons for this. Even though Jenny is FG’s friend, she, also, overlooks FG because of his deficiencies. Only later does she realize that kindness is more important than intelligence and other attributes society associates with success and prestige.
I don’t get this. Some people don’t really have much intellectual capacity, through no fault of their own. I don’t see how FG’s depiction is insulting to people who are mentally handicapped.
The film makes a point of the fact his IQ is above “retarded”, but beyond that intellectual capacity has nothing to do with not caring about anything that happens around you. Everyone tries to explain to themselves why and how stuff happens, even if their explanations are infantile. Forrest never does this in the film, to my recollection. He does not care.
He’s mostly a social-outcast—until he displays prowess in athletics and in the military (he’s a kind of idiot savant, in that sense)—and his mental handicap is one of the main reasons for this.
Exactly. He succeeds because he lacks the ability to think for himself. Simply following orders makes him a fantastic athlete, the perfect soldier, a celebrity and a millionaire. Isn’t that the status quo ideal?
Not a film I like at all. Some fine performances from Tom Hanks (there’s something in me that always smiles when he says his name is Forrest Gump, folks call him Forrest Gump) and Gary Sinise is excellent as Captain Dan, but the film’s really choking sentimentality just appalls me every time. The whole Zemeckis thing of re-assigning historic acts to his heroes gets a bit irritating, like having Chuck Berry get the idea for JOHNNY B. GOODE by listening to Michael J. Fox, and it just gets awful in GUMP when Forrest is the direct inspiration for John Lennon’s song IMAGINE, for me one of the low points in American movie history. Robert Zemeckis should be flogged at Lennon’s grave.
There’s something dishonest about the movie, best shown during the scene at the Vietnam rally. Forrest stands up at the Vietnam rally to deliver his “thoughts” on Vietnam. Of course, the sound system is sabotaged and we never hear what he says, but the film goes out of its way to have Abbie Hoffman embrace Forrest and say something like “Great man, you’ve said it all better than I could.”
Getting the explicit endorsement of a figure like Abbie Hoffman without giving me Forrest’s thoughts about Vietnam is a deliberate and over-elaborate dodge away from having to come up with a real position. Think about it. Since FORREST GUMP is narrated by Forrest, why does the sabotage of the sound system matter? Why didn’t t Zemeckis just let us, the audience, hear what Forrest has to say? God knows the movie goes out of its way to show us other things that Forrest doesn’t participate in, like Jenny’s suicide attempt. Why does it skip Forrest’s thoughts on Vietnam, the very ideas that earn him an embrace from Abbie Hoffman?
Because the movie is a cheap easy dodge, a piece of feel-good easy self-congratulation that panders to its audience. I’m so glad that so many people have come to see it for what it is.
He may not officially be mentally handicapped, but do you think he’s of average intelligence and awareness? I don’t get that sense at all (and don’t they make an issue of this in the film?). Basically, you’re saying that callousness and cold-heartedness, rather than some mental deficiency, is the reason for his relatively narrow sphere of compassion. Is that right?
Not thinking for himself makes him a fantastic athlete? Following the coaches instructions doesn’t give the speed he develops. And doesn’t his act of valor occur precisely because he defies orders? If anything, you could say his mental slowness (lack of awareness) allows him to save Lt. Dan—but I don’t think his mindless obedience leads to his success. When he becomes a celebrity (a guru of sorts), this due more to the people who become his followers. If anything it ridicules the people who follow him, not unlike what happens in Being There. (Btw, what’s the difference between the character Chance in Being There and FG?)
(How does FG become a millionaire? I can’t remember that part.)