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July 1994


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Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 12 Jul 1994 09:41:56 -0600
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I have to agree with previous writers on the limitations of the film.
Hanks' acting is fine (though his narration becomes droning and monotonous
after a while) and Gary Sinise's is even better, but overall this is the
best-produced and best-acted BAD movie since TERMS OF ENDEARMENT. By the
end of the Vietnam section, I was starting to look at my watch and by the
running sequence I was positively itchy.
The film's problematic politics aside, the big problem, as one of you noted
earlier, is the lack of development. The film is so episodic without narrative
causality or development of character that it becomes repetitious after a
while. It is perhaps a commentary on the violence of American society when
Gump meets Wallace and then Kennedy and remarks on the attempts on their
lives, but the background presentations of the attempts on Ford's and
Reagan's lives are simply there with no context except what has gone before
and the audience's public memory. (Now if Gump were some kind of jinx on
 the celebrities he meets, that would be dark--if not tasteless--humor.)
Then there's the effect of Gump on others: [MORE SPOILERS COMING]
He teaches Presley how to move and creates SMILE buttons (how appropriate!)
and starts off Watergate, which is all amusing enough. But when BubbaGump
is created thanks to a 10 COMMANDMENTS-like storm, no one pauses to ask
about the effects on the other shrimpers. (and were any of them black?)
Jenny herself seems an emblem of Wayward Youth of the 60s, suffering the
effects of all the excesses of that decade, even if the roots of her
problem are in sexual abuse. It's interesting that the one major movement
she misses is Women's Liberation. Then she gets to die of The Movie Disease
that leaves a good-looking corpse and a brave husband who will Carry On (just
like Winger and Daniels in TERMS OF ENDEARMENT). And yes, the virus is
probably AIDS, but what does that mean for the kid--or for Gump himself?
If the Vietnam sequences are FULL METAL JACKET with a happy (smile) face,
then Gump himself is the anti-Candide. This IS the best of all possible
If only Luis Bunuel were still alive, think what he could do with this