Forrest Gump was a fable without a moral, the key to its maddening success. At the end of the movie, the idiot-who-always-failed-up tried to make sense of the story himself.
Was his life a tribute to destiny or accidents, he wondered, in a moment of striving depth. Then he shrugged off the question: “Maybe it’s both.” But dumb ol’ Forrest was right. (Like always.) Both theories boil down to fate, and Forrest Gump may be the most curiously fated film in modern history.
Now rereleased in IMAX, this sweet-as-mass-produced-chocolate mega-hit is adored by everyone’s grandma but was based on a novel about a mentally challenged giant who lived with cannibals, blasted off into space, and was great in the sack. For every blessing that falls at movie Forrest’s feet like a feather from the sky, karma punishes his loved ones, not that he notices. (And the film can’t look them in the eye either.)
They live complicated lives we only glimpse in the margins beyond Forrest’s myopia. His jilted mom prostitutes herself to get her boy into a better school. His crush sleeps her way through the era where misogyny cloaked itself in peace and love, all while being stalked with Jason Voorhees relentlessness by her flat-topped childhood playmate.
At war, Forrest doesn’t kill anyone. He doesn’t get PTSD. He doesn’t even have a clue why he’s there. The film is so afraid to dredge up debate that when Abbie Hoffman hands Forrest the microphone at an anti-war rally, someone unplugs the speakers so we can’t hear him — fitting for a movie with nothing to say.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 3, 2014