Sunday, March 6, 2016
Reviews are like a box of chocolates. You know what you're getting if you have a good sense of smell. I somehow never connected that this was a Robert Zemeckis film. Somehow you don't think Back to the Future and Forrest Gump. I'll get right out there and say I fall into the camp that finds Forrest Gump cheesy, schlocky, corny, trite, whatever adjective you want to affix to a schmaltz-fest of self-indulgence. I also find this movie really problematic as a disabled person, since it hits so very many tropes about how rotten life is for us disabled people if we don't find someone else to glom onto like a big ol' leech. Now, I'm physically disabled, not in any way mentally disabled, but the whole movie reminds me of the now famous scene in Tropic Thunder. I've heard people ask "If you're not supposed to go 'full retard', how much are you supposed to go?". The answer, not just about the mentally handicapped, but about the congenitally handicapped in any way is "Enough to make the able-bodied feel inspiration mixed with pity. Not enough to get them angry or uncomfortable". And Forrest Gump and Lieutenant Dan both fill that role. Forrest by being such a good-hearted nitwit that he becomes an easy target for just about every person that he bumbles into, but he makes out well, so no one has to get outraged, and Dan by being detestable until he becomes inspirational. Look out, it's SUPER CRIP TO THE RESCUE! On a technical level, the movie is amazing. The insertion of Tom Hanks into historical footage is still pretty damn impressive. The lip-synching is pretty good if you're not watching a few inches away on a tablet screen. The sets are great. The soundtrack is great. The cinematography is usually quite good. It's just these problematic as hell characters. You've got the trope of the abused child will grow up to be a promiscuous drug addict and a self-absorbed user, you've got the Super Crip tropes, you've got the stereotypes about Southerners, and through it all, this self-congratulating air that seems really unique to Baby Boomer films. It's weird, when I've watched a ton of WWII propaganda films that portray whatever unit as brave and courageous and the best ever, but somehow, they didn't seem as self-absorbed. This movie is a love letter to Baby Boomers, while conveniently glossing over any negative parts of Boomer culture, except of course Jenny's spiral into drug addiction and death from something (the frontrunners are AIDS and Hepatitis C). Part of me wonders how much of the praise of this movie is purely on technical merit, and how many is from warm fuzzy-wuzzies over how great Baby Boomers were. There is technical merit to this film - I would never say there wasn't. But the best recommendation I can give it as a piece of writing is that Weird Al made a really funny parody of it. I hate this movie, but not even the blood-boiling hate that other movies have made me feel. My hatred for this movie is like my hatred of Gatorade. Syrupy-sweetness to be choked down when necessary, then forgotten about the rest of the time. I've seen far worse movies, but at least they could make me feel the distaste.