This week on the podcast, the guys and Jenny covered the 90s. I’m actually less inclined to hate on the 90s than I am on the 80s, but not because I think the 90s were better. Part of it is I came to adulthood in that decade. The other part is, when you get right down to it, modern geek culture, an important part of this site’s purpose (you know, the thing this website is completely dedicated to), started then. The 90s gave us the first serialized television, TV animation took a big step away from half-assed shows based on action figure lines, there was the rise of HBO original programming, and depending on when you start and stop the era, the X-Men hit the big screen in 2000. The Cold War was over and the War on Terror hadn’t started yet. It was a good time.
I still would not go back to it, because I still believe in living in the now.
Speaking of living in the now, let’s talk about how overrated Forrest Gump is.
OK, so, Forrest Gump is a good movie. It is not a great movie. It is a good movie. It beat out two better movies for Best Picture that year in the form of Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption. It also beat out Quiz Show and Four Weddings and a Funeral, but I’ve never seen those two and will not comment on that.
Though the fact those movies all came out the same year did lead to this:
At the center of Gump is a fantastic Tom Hanks performance, and some really good special effects. The rest of the cast is also pretty good. It also chucks like 80% of the novel it was based on, to the anger of author Winston Groom, who wasn’t even paid anything out of the 3% profit shares he was promised. I’ve read Groom’s novel, and it’s probably a good thing they didn’t use his book that much. The movie does accurately depict Forrest’s football career, his time in Vietnam, the shrimp boat stuff with Lt. Dan, and how good he was at ping pong. There’s Mama, Jenny, Forrest Jr., Lt. Dan. and Bubba (who I think was implied to be white). That’s actually about it. Changes made include:
- Bubba was Forrest’s roommate in college.
- Forrest and Jenny have sex a lot at one point while they are both members of a band. Jenny dumps Forrest when she finds him in a threesome with some groupies.
- Forrest saves Chairman Mao from drowning.
- Forrest only meets two presidents. He does show LBJ his war wound, but during a private conversation. Nixon asks him if he wants to buy a watch.
- Forrest becomes an astronaut. He boards a rocket with a cranky woman scientist and a male orangutan named Sue. The rocket never makes it into space and crashes on a jungle island where Forrest learns the ape’s language (!) and gets the ape’s life story (!). Forrest and the ape are rescued later but the woman has fallen in love with a native and opts to stay.
- Forrest becomes a pro wrestler with Lt. Dan as his manager.
- Forrest gets cast as the monster in a Hollywood monster movie. Due to a series of weird accidents, he is soon wandering the streets of L.A. in his monster suit with Sue (also working for the studio) and a naked Raquel Welch.
- Jenny and Mama are still alive at the end of the book. Also, Jenny is a brunette. Forrest and Jenny had a date in high school that ended when Forrest accidentally ripped her dress off in a movie theater.
- Forrest cusses like a sailor and has a body like Swarzenegger.
- The novel ends with Lt. Dan, Forrest, and Sue becoming street musicians.
Like I said, probably a good thing they didn’t stick to this stuff.
Here’s what I don’t like: the entire movie is basically saying it’s awesome to be a baby boomer.
Think about it: aside from a good deal of the Vietnam stuff, everything that’s good about being a boomer happens to Forrest, a simple man who has sex once in his entire life.
Everything bad about being a boomer happens to Jenny, a sexually adventurous woman who was molested as a kid (something else added for the movie). Like the first victim in an 80s slasher movie, Jenny is in a sense punished for not being a sweet virgin. True, much of Jenny’s issues can be laid to the fact she was abused as a child, but there does seem to be an element of punishment against her.
Besides, for all that Forrest’s story is one of appreciating the great variety of life and having fantastic life experiences to go along with seeing the world, a theme the screenwriters would go to again for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Forrest never seems to personally appreciate how much of life he gets to experience. His simple-mindedness and supreme good fortune means he does more than most people do with their lives and he doesn’t even seem to notice that! There’s no awe in Forrest about going to China, playing high level college football, meeting presidents, or being present for big events. It’s just something that happened, like it happens to everybody. He’s a man who’s happiest mowing the lawn at his local high school. Maybe that’s all about enjoying the simple things in life, a message I can appreciate, but Forrest himself never seems to come to that conclusion directly, so I’ll just draw my own conclusions.
And that is all I have to say about that.