Siskel and Ebert Movie Reviews

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Why Gump, Why Now? 1994

Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump, A League of Their Own, Sleepless in Seattle, Philadelphia, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Bosom Buddies, Nothing in Common, Punchline, Splash, Big, Joe Versus the Volcano

Home Video – Born on the Fourth of July, Being There

6 thoughts on “Why Gump, Why Now? 1994

  • I haven’t seen Forrest Gump for years, and I don’t remember being as nuts about it as everybody else was back in 1994, but based on this (and based on the Netflix documentary about the making of the movie, which I just coincidentally watched today) I think it may be time for a reappraisal. I just remember thinking, back then, that Forrest is totally unaffected by all these incredible things that happen to him, and why would you want a movie (or a book) about a character unaffected by the story he’s moving through? But the way Gene presents the movie as a fable, almost as if Forrest is an engine driving us through a tour of this era in American history, that makes me think there’s more than I saw then. For a counterpoint, as Roger wisely notes, the Oliver Stone film Born on the Forth of July moves through almost the exact same territory but featuring a main character who is very much affected by everything. . . which is the better approach? Maybe that the wrong question to ask. Maybe the right question is, why the different approaches, and how do those two approaches clarify the times the movies are about?

    • I saw the Netflix documentary. It’s really crazy that Paramount tried to shut production down due to budgetary issues.

    • I remember seeing Gump and Pulp in 1994, being powerfully affected by both, and basically deciding soon after that I would never watch either one of them again. I felt like I had perfect experiences with both movies, and watching them again could only dilute the impact they had. So I’ve stuck to that for the most part, other than watching some clips. But I most likely will finally watch them again at some point. I still think they’re two of the best movies I’ve ever seen.

      I think the overriding message of Forrest Gump is that human beings make life more complicated than it needs to be. Thinking too much is one of our biggest problems. Sort of an idle hands are the devil’s playthings message. Human beings were given highly evolved skills in order to survive. When we’ve resoundingly solved the problem of how to survive on a day-to-day basis, what do we do with all of that unused intellectual and physical energy? Much of the time we end up imagining problems that aren’t really there just so we have somewhere to direct our problem-solving skills. So the great, comedic irony of the movie is just how crazy the rest of the world looks to someone who is simpleminded enough to not be plagued by the neuroses from which the supposedly more intelligent members of the species suffer.

      • What are your thoughts on The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button?

    • What are your thoughts on The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button?

  • Jedijones, you make a great point there. I hadn’t thought of it like that (not even during the 4 times I’ve watched it since buying the Blu-Ray a week ago), but it makes a lot of sense, because it’s absolutely true. I have a son who is challenged, and his almost zen-like outlook on life, taking things as they come and not constantly asking Why? Why? Why? fills me with admiration and jealousy every day. I guess it’s time to watch Gump a 5th time.

    As for your dilemma, I would recommend watching both movies again. They hold up for sure, in fact you’re liable to get even more out of them nearly 30 years down the line.

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