30-Day Film Challenge, Day 8: A Film Where You Liked the Soundtrack More

So, let me just get this out of the way so most readers can stop and run right to the comment section to fill it with vitriol: I don’t like Forrest Gump.

Yeah, I said it. @ me, bro.

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

I suspect many of you who aren’t foaming at the mouth are at least looking at the screen a lot like Forrest is right there.

I can appreciate some of the technical aspects of the film, but that’s as far as I’ll go. The plot is stupid. That fatuous feather that frames the film looks every bit as foolish today as the plastic bag central to American Beauty (another terribly overrated flick). “Life’s like a box of chocolates?” That’s supposed to pass as wisdom?

Winston Groom’s novel is meant to be satire, and even then it’s not what I would call a hallmark of literature. The filmmakers read it straight, however, and gave us an earnest portrayal of a guy who himself admits is “not a smart man” who just happens to insert himself into every major event of a tumultuous period in American history. That doesn’t make it deep or thoughtful.

Or even good.

But that soundtrack, y’all. It does manage to capture the spirit of America at that time. It takes the best from R&B and rock ‘n roll and gives us a two-disc set (back when we used to have discs) of the finest musical accomplishments of the era.

Queen Aretha’s “RESPECT.” The Youngblood’s exhorting us to get together. Buffalo Springfield telling us to “look what’s going down.”

Wicked Pickett’s “Land of 1,000 Dances.”

Also, there’s this little album, recorded at FAME Studios, right down the road from me.

“Sweet Home Alabama,” of course, with their mention of my hometown and the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. “Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers.” (Who also played on the aforementioned Pickett album. I’m a little proud of my area’s one major contribution to culture.)

It’s rare back in the days of CDs that I could listen to an entire disc without skipping a track. With this soundtrack I could go through two. Then loop back around to track 1 of disc 1 and start all over again.

But to think this film took an Oscar when Pulp Friggin’ Fiction was also nominated. Or to think that Robert Zemeckis got a best director award when Quinten Tarantino was also nominated for Pulp Friggin’ Fiction. Or even that Tom Hanks won Best Actor when John Travolta was up for the award as Vincent Vega in … Never mind, Morgan Freeman actually deserved that award for Shawshank, but my soapbox stands.

And that’s not to disparage our national treasure Tom Hanks. I have a list of people who I one day would like to hug, and he is at the top.

It’s just that I don’t love this performance nor the film. Everything else he’s been in has been gold. Except for the overrated Saving Private Ryan. And the equally overrated The Green Mile. And I never cared for The Polar Express. Other than that …

Yeah, I’m going to shut up before I’m publicly pilloried.

How about them boys from Skynrd, huh?


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