By Bill Arceneaux
Forrest Gump at 20
“Is Forrest autistic?” a colleague recently asked me on Facebook. Back when the character was born, and in the region of the South he lived in, there was really no way of diagnosing his condition, whatever it was. Did he lose oxygen at birth? Was the problem with his legs related? His disability didn’t really matter, as it really wasn’t a disability at all. What Forrest had was a sincere and sweet outlook on life. An outlook that took him through some of the most transformative events in American history. An outlook that kept him at peace through such chaos.
Some people have a Frank Grimes – Homer Simpson’s nemesis, in case you didn’t know – relationship with Forrest Gump nowadays, seeing the movie through cynical eyes. The general perception is that he’s a dumb white guy, coasting through life, getting rewarded for doing little. Boy, do some people have a chip on their shoulders. Being skeptical is fine, but why so glum? Sure, we as an audience have had our collective and individual intelligences insulted and sold to the highest bidders time and time again, but have we been angered to the point of missing the (excuse the pun) Forrest for the trees?
I think it says a lot for where we’re at right now as moviegoers, trying to put Forrest in a box. The superior movie Being There provides a wonderful response by the great Peter Sellers. When asked if there is proof of his identity, Sellers’ character says, “You have me. I’m here.” Forrest shouldn’t be labeled as having a ________ disability or representing the worst aspects of the American dream, though I suppose such curiosity is only normal.
Forrest Gump was, and remains, a safe, charming classic. It rides the I Am Sam line at moments, but never tips over into embarrassment. The humanity, however simple, is always prevalent, resonating more often than not.
Still, the floating feather was a bit much…
Ghostbusters at 30
I have a crystal clear memory of a Stay Puff Marshmallow Man action figure that followed me from childhood home to childhood home. I remember the sequel, with the ghost giving a peace sign on the poster. And Rick Moranis? Of course.
The original Ghostbusters movie? Happened before my time.
Yes, I’ve seen it multiple times, and enjoyed it a lot. But by the time I started recalling memories, all I could think of was the cartoon series, the song and the sequel. Basically, I got over-saturated with the cash-ins. Along side my Return of the Jedi bed sheets were the proton pack toys, making noise every time they were played with.
I was born into Ghostbusters franchise hysteria. I never got to feel it from the beginning. Ernie Hudson appearing on the “Super Mario Bros Super Show” takes higher presence in my mind than Bill Murray getting slimed, or conniving his way into Sigourney Weaver’s apartment by claiming to be “The Keymaster.”
Did my generation have to play catch up? We certainly did with Star Wars. And you know what? That’s ok. While it’s not and will never be a nostalgia trip for me, Ghostbusters holds true as the quirky oddity of a comedy it is, one that any group of kids or adults can get into and claim.
Should I be ashamed of my fondness for the second movie? That line about straightening a slinky kills me whenever I hear it.
For more from the author, follow him on twitter @billreviews and on medium.com/@billreviews