Thursday, April 4, 2013

This Forrest Ain't Sweet Like Chocolate

I guess Forrest Gump was right-- you really never do know what you're going to get...

Tom Hanks seems like a pretty cool dude.  So, when I needed to choose a new book, I figured I'd go with a classic Tom Hanks character.  The film Forrest Gump was so fantastic, I couldn't even begin to imagine how great the book would be!

Well, it turns out that Tom Hanks's Forrest is a much kinder and better person than the author intended Forrest Gump to actually be.  The original Forrest swears like a trucker, he's vulgar, he's uncouth, and he's not necessarily a nice guy.  He is self-centered and kind of a pig. What a disappointment.

Winston Groom's concept was interesting enough.  The book is written the way Forrest would speak.  Words are misspelled, misused, and misunderstood.  Forrest wants to start a "srimp" company, for example.  It's clever and really brings you in to Forrest's life.  And, like in the movie, Forrest did play football and he did love Jenny Curran.  But, most of the book is very different from the film, and not in a good way.  Forrest still bumbles from place to place, but he now does so with a Chimpanzee named Sue.  He's arrested 3 or 4 times.  He becomes a professional wrestler.  He meets Nixon who freaks out when he thinks that Forrest is calling him a liar.

There were two things that bothered me about this book.  First, as I said, Forrest isn't a good guy.  It was rather hard to root for him to succeed because he's just not likable.  Because the book is Forrest's story, you  become immersed in the story right away.  But, rather than hoping Forrest will win Jenny's heart, I found myself saying "Jenny, you can do better!"  That's not what Forrest Gump is supposed to be about!  You're supposed to cheer on Forrest, to tell him "Run, Forrest, RUN!" Instead, I was cheering for the bully to give him a pounding.

The other thing that bothered me was the implausibility of the story.  Ok, I get it, the movie was fairly implausible.  But, somehow, it worked.  In the book, the facts just didn't add up.  Forrest is sent to space with Sue because he was arrested and NASA wants to experiment on him.  They crash land in a cannibal colony where they live for four years.  Forrest is later put on a movie set in Hollywood where he ends up accidentally ripping Raquel Welch's dress off and he, Raquel, and Sue end up on the LA Freeway together.  I mean, REALLY?  It's just too unrealistic and the events don't flow.  Somehow, I always felt the movie flowed.

So, what it comes down to is this: for once, I'm instructing you to Skip the Book, Watch the Movie Instead.

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