Has a book ever fallen to pieces so fully and so quickly that you can hardly bring yourself to admit it wasn’t all bad, the way it ended coloring your perception of the start you, not long ago, found promise in? After reading Forrest Gump, I can say with utmost certainty that I have. Groom’s novel initially shares some of the film’s spirit despite the glaring differences between the two. In some ways, it was even an improvement, if you would believe that. For instance, Jenny, the film’s unofficial villain, is no more enraging a character in the book than Forrest I-gotta-pee Gump himself.
If that’s not the middle name on his birth certificate, it should be. Forrest has to pee so much in this book that I started wondering why he didn’t have it checked out. His wanton peeing is just one of the things about the book that drove me over the edge after so long. But I would’ve continued on my merry way through the book if we were just talking trivialities such as that. It’s Groom that went full-retard, not Tom Hanks, and in doing so he abandoned all respectability. I apologize if my usage of that already offensive term offended anyone, but it seemed the most relevant way to put it, what with how often you hear that term linked with the movie.
Eric Roth deserved a lifetime supply of Academy Awards for the makeover he gave Groom’s book; he took the literary equivalent of the monkey Forrest went up in space with flinging poo at the reader and made it more poignant than it ever deserved to be. If there’s a novelization of the script out there, and if this is at all a just world, it should be outselling the original novel exponentially. Why? Again, Forrest went up into space, and with a monkey no less. No poo was actually thrown, but one scene, if I remember correctly, did involve one of them trying (and failing) to avoid a zero-gravity urine stream.
Once that trek through space was completed, they crash-landed and were taken hostage by cannibals, one of which Forrest’s other fellow astronaut, a woman, falls in love and runs away with later on. The monkey also decides to remain in the wild, having had enough of this space stuff, much the same as me. Don’t worry, though, he re-appears later on when Forrest unintentionally strips exposes a film star and then somehow leads her from the film set to the highway in his attempt to get her where no one can see. From there, they foot it to a clothing store where the starlet throws a fit and gets Forrest, the monkey, and herself all tossed in jail.
Forrest is bailed out by a friend of his, though, and goes on to win a chess tournament, but not before they threaten to disqualify him… for passing wind during his opponent’s move. I’m just surprised it was flatulence, not piss. Maybe he should’ve kept that diaper the wrestling promoter had him parading around in, that way he could go whenever he wanted. Yes, he had a brief wrestling career as well (as “The Dunce”) and went up against such foes as The Vegetable (imagine those Fruit of the Loom guys, but a vegetable instead) and, I shit you not (pun intended), a man costumed as a gargantuan pile of feces. If it wasn’t crap, it was something comparably stupid. Lieutenant Dan also helps him lose all the money he makes debasing himself by convincing him to bet all his earnings on his own match, the one he was supposed to lose. He, of course, still loses. Oh, and Jenny leaves him. For a totally valid reason, too. Who wants to date a guy whose idea of making a living is playing the fool and wearing a diaper in front of huge crowds?
Especially when Forrest is, apparently, not a dunce, but an idiot savant who excels at seemingly everything he tries, from football to chess to ping pong to advanced mathematics. He’s a regular Will Hunting. No, really, this dunce is actually wicked smart. Oh, and he and Jenny also have more sex than I’ve had in my life. Plus, she leaves him temporarily after all this sex because she thinks he’s fooling around with another girl. And, in the end, she marries someone else, because she deserves better than this idiot who’s nowhere near as lovable as in the film, even if she’s not so perfect herself. I could keep going and going like the Energizer Bunny telling you of the novel’s many moments of utter horse-shit, but you should know enough by now.
If you still feel like giving the book a chance after reading all of this, you deserve what you get and I have absolutely no sympathy for you.
Travis Smith’s blog, containing this review, as well as others, photography, and more, can be found here.