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Worst Picture/Best Picture: Color of Night and Forrest Gump (1994)

Color of Night – “This is worth seeing if you’re in the mood for a adult-orientated suspense thriller…with quite a lot of sex. & yes, ladies, You can see Bruce’s winky in this too.” (moviecollector, IMDb.com)

Forrest Gump – “The film has been very well worked out on all levels, and manages the difficult feat of being an intimate, even delicate tale played with an appealingly light touch against an epic backdrop.” (Todd McCarthy, Variety)

Ping Pong and Ding Dongs

Many people consider 1994 to be one of the best Best Picture lineups at the Oscars. But 1994 wasn’t just a great year for the Academy, there were a lot of great films all around. There were classic comedies like Dumb & Dumber, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and The Mask (okay, maybe it was just a great year for Jim Carrey). There were fun action films like Speed, Stargate, and True Lies. And there were serious dramas like Vanya on 42nd Street, Exotica, and Heavenly Creatures. But, the top film at the Oscars and the Razzies both have two stars of 80s TV shows who then became big stars on the big screen later in the decade. So, sit back, relax, and I’ll talk about a man who shows his buttocks to Lyndon Johnson and another man who shows his Johnson to the world.

Color of Night stars Bruce Willis in his second Worst Actor nomination. Jealous that his wife had just starred in a Worst Picture winning film, Mr. Demi Moore decided to do something about that. Some would say it would really hurt one’s career if they starred in a Razzie film. Luckily Willis had Pulp Fiction the same year as Color of Night, so he needn’t worry. North came out the same year as well, but I can’t remember how that one was received. Anyway, Willis plays New York psychiatrist Bill Capa, and when the film opens we get to see him work his magic. Well, actually, he wasn’t so hot, because his patient flung herself out of his office building, killing herself. The shock of seeing her blood splattered all over the street below had a major effect on him and since then he can longer see the color red. That is quite an original concept, mixing the color red into blacks and whites and greys, it’s something we’ve never seen before. Taking a break from his practice, he goes to LA to visit his fellow psychiatrist friend Bob Moore, played by Scott Bakula.

As Color of Night opens with a falling body hitting the pavement, Forrest Gump opens with a falling feather hitting the pavement, right in front of Forrest’s feet. Tom Hanks, in his second Best Actor win, plays the title character, a simple man with an IQ of 75. Wearing a nice suit and bowtie, he sits on a bench waiting for the bus and tells his life story to the other people waiting for their buses. Telling a woman that his mother would say “Life was a like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”, we’re only a few minutes into the film and it is already clear that it’s gonna supply us with a bunch of clever quips.

Back in LA, Capa goes to his friend Bob’s place, a huge house on the LA coast, quite the quantum leap from Capa’s place in New York. Bob suggests that Capa should go to one of his psych sessions to help him get back into the shrink vibe, so he agrees. At a joint session, five patients are introduced. Lance Henriksen plays Buck, an angry old ex-cop who’s also suicidal – way to go Bob, try to help Capa get over the guilt of his dead patient by introducing him to a new patient who wants to kill himself. Anyway, Buck lost his family, but thankfully he went to therapy instead of summoning the Pumpkinhead. There’s nymphomaniac Sondra played by Lesley Ann Warren. Okay, now you’re just being a dick, Bob, having Capa who can’t see red meet Miss Scarlett. And of course there’s Clark, dressed in a suit and bowtie, looking like quite the simple man, played by Brad Dourif, taking a break from playing psycho Chucky in order to get to help. Kevin J O’Connor plays S&M artist Casey. And lastly there’s Richie, played by some unknown, a gender confused teen who also has some drug issues and a bad stutter, take that Billy Bibbit! Wow, all of these interesting characters in this film, try to top that, Forrest Gump.

Capa and Bob hang out a bit together, talk about the patients and ride bikes up and down the cost trying to outrace each other. “Why don’t we just drop our pants and see who’s got the bigger dick?” Momma would never say anything so wise. Of course, a couple days after the therapy session, Bob ends up getting murdered, and it looks like it could be one of the members from the meeting. Quite the mystery. Agreeing to cooperate with the detectives and help them solve the case, he also agrees that it would be a shame to let such a rich home be left vacant, so, with a heavy heart, Capa decides to crash at a luxurious coastal mansion and drive his Mercedes convertible.

Wouldn’t you know it, only a few hours after weeping Willis drove his friend’s sex magnet of a car, he gets rear ended by an extremely hot young woman named Rose (thankfully her name isn’t literal, so he can see her fine). Rather than get upset about the damage to the car, he gets her number and they go out on a date. Of course, one of the best first date conversations to have is to say that your patient killed herself while you were having a session and that you can no longer see red. Real smooth, Capa. When the date is over and Rose leaves, Capa gives a bit of personal narration that he does a few times throughout the film. Sorry Capa, it doesn’t really work unless you’ve got an audience, preferably at a bus stop.

Back on the bench, as Forrest begins his tale, we see him a young boy living in Alabama with his mother Sally Field. Forrest needs to wear braces on his legs in order to help straighten up his spine, which of course got many stares from the locals. At least his braces weren’t as bad as Demi’s braces in Indecent Proposal, so at least Forrest had that going for him. Early on it’s clear to see that Forrest’s momma is a caring mother and really wants all the best for her son. Even when Forrest’s IQ came into question when trying to get him into public school, she was willing to have sex with the principal in order to get him accepted. While I really love this film, I’ll admit, I was a bit upset by the moaning sounds we heard in the background when Forrest was sitting outside the house, thankfully we didn’t see any nudity which would really offend me.

After a rough day of taking over Bob’s job and telling the patients that their therapist had been murdered, Capa goes back to his shrink shrine. Shortly after he gets home, Rose arrives and they got it on everywhere, in the kitchen, in the pool, in the bedroom, in the bathroom. And we don’t just see Capa’s buttocks. Forrest gave us peas and carrots, Capa gave us frank and beans. And after reading a bit of trivia, apparently Willis had a stand in for that pool scene. Why? Let’s just put it this way, if Capa and Bob dropped their pants, Bob would win.

Meanwhile, back in Alabama, little Forrest has done some growing up. Getting on the bus for his first day of school, he instantly falls in love with Jenny, the only person who was nice to him. They become best friends and even helped give him the strength to break his braces and run like the wind blows. His speed even got him to get on the high school football team which even got him into college. And even though he was hesitant to be without Jenny, after graduating college, Forrest joined the military and got sent to Vietnam.

Forrest makes a few new friends in Vietnam, and though they’re not as interesting as an S&M painter or a sex crazed lesbian, they’re still pretty colorful. Bubba is a fellow soldier who, like Jenny, quickly befriends Forrest. With a real passion for catching shrimp in the ocean, Bubba has a mighty fine idea and asks Forrest if he wanted to join him after the war to find the little sea critters. Along with Bubba, Forrest also meets Lieutenant Dan. Lt Dan hasn’t had the greatest record with befriending simple minded people, last time he promised someone a rabbit and it didn’t end too well. But before Forrest had time to hang out with his new friends, the horrors of Vietnam really kicked in. A graphic battle scene takes place and though he was able to save some of his fellow companions, including a crippled Lt. Dan, Forrest was too late in saving his friend Bubba who died in his arms.

After the death of his friend Bubba in Vietnam, Forrest was determined to fulfill the promise he made to him and take up shrimping. With the help of his legless pal Lt. Dan, Forrest bought a boat and took out on the open sea. Though he had some bad luck at first, a hurricane later and soon Forrest and the Lieutenant became the leading shrimping boat in the Atlantic. With all their success, Forrest decided to start his own business “Bubba Gump Shrimp” and quickly became a millionaire. Unfortunately the same couldn’t be said for Bruce Willis and Planet Hollywood.

Back in California, uh, what was this movie about again? Those sex scenes really distracted me. Oh yeah, Capa’s trying to solve a murder. We get to see some of the patients outside of the sessions and see what kind of people they really are. Sondra wasn’t lying, she is indeed sex crazed and crazy. And while Capa goes on snooping some more, we find out that Clark used to have sex with Sondra. We also learn a bit more about Buck and how he lost his family. Along with his wife and kid being murdered by a hitchhiker, it turns out Buck used to be a cop, and the detective Capa has been keeping in touch with used to work with him and was also having an affair with his wife before she died. Scandal! Richie was tough to get a hold of, so Capa just went to talk to his protective brother who doesn’t like Richie being in therapy. And before Capa could interrogate Casey, the S&M artist was strangled and stabbed to death. I guess we can rule him out as a suspect.

So much is going on in this mystery film, let’s see if anything interesting is happening in the Gump universe. Oh yeah, Forrest is thinking about Jenny. While he’s making his fortune on the high seas, Jenny is living the wild life as a drug crazed hippie in LA. There’s a scary moment where she gets up on the balcony of a building and nearly jumps, but manages to stop herself from falling. I’m sure if Capa was there he’d have been able to help her go through with it. She soon heads back to Alabama to see Forrest and have a little fling with him. She probably found out that he was a millionaire and decided now it’s time to have sex with him. After their night together, she leaves him again. Make up your mind, girl.

With Jenny gone again, Forrest decides to go for a little run. What began as a run down the block turned into a run across the town, which then turned into a run across the state, and then across the country. Though it’s good exercise, Forrest sure get to places quicker in a car, plus, now that he’s experienced being with a woman, he’s missing the possibility of getting into fender benders that will lead to nasty sex in pools with women.

Getting into the home stretch, things are finally coming together. It turns out that the horny Rose isn’t just having fun with Capa, unbeknownst to everyone, she’s been having fun with all of the patients. And wouldn’t you know it, Richie actually killed himself four years ago. No, we haven’t been seeing dead people, it turns out stuttering Richie is actually Rose, Richie’s older sister! So is Rose the killer? No, instead of picking one of the Oscar nominated actors or any of the other many colorful characters, instead it turns out the killer is actually Richie and Rose’s brother Dale, the star of My Boyfriend’s Back who had about 30 seconds of screentime prior to the big reveal. What a twist. A motive and a nail gun later, Dale is dead and Capa saves Rose from killing herself. And with that, Capa finally gets his red back. Sure, a few people may have died in order for him to get his color back, but hey, shit happens.

Finally, finishing his endless story that seemed to last four decades, Forrest finally meets up with his beloved Jenny again. He’s of course very happy to see her, but he’s even happier to discover that she has a young son, Forrest Jr. and he is the father. The two Forrests quickly connect, big Forrest marries Jenny, and it seems like everything is finally complete for our hero. Of course, we soon discover that Jenny has an unknown disease, and since it’s the early 80s, it’s likely that she has AIDS. With a tearful goodbye at her grave by their house, Forrest continues his life, taking care of his son and living his life. I just hope they live a healthy life together.

Through all of Forrest’s adventures, he manages to interact with quite a few important people along the way. John F Kennedy plays John F Kennedy, a president who lets Forrest use his bathroom to go pee. There’s Elvis, played by Elvis Presley, a singer who picks up a few dance moves from little Forrest. And of course there’s Abbie Hoffman, dressed in red, white, and blue, looking like an American flag, played by Abbie Hoffman. Lyndon Johnson plays Lyndon Johnson. And lastly there’s John Lennon, played by John Lennon, a singer who meets Forrest on a talk show and gets some ideas for a new song from him.

The soundtrack of Forrest Gump is very enjoyable and really fits with the times presented in the movie. Jenny performs “Blowin’ in the Wind” when Forrest goes to see her at the club, “Fortunate Song” plays when he’s going to Vietnam, and “Go Your Own Way” plays when he’s running across America. Thankfully the movie ends in the early 80s, otherwise we may have had to hear “Respect Yourself” by Bruce Willis.

I’ll admit, I had a really tough time with this one. There was pretty much nothing in common with this these two films. I mean, Color of Night is about a psychiatrist whose patient killed himself at the beginning and he spends the rest of the film trying to use his doctor skills to solve a mystery, and Forrest Gump is about a simple minded man who ends up marrying the woman he loves and raises a son. The two literally have nothing in… wait a second. Forrest Jr., he looks familiar. Oh my god. Bruce Willis’s patient committed suicide and until he’s cured at the end he can’t see the color red. Perhaps after end of the film, Willis decided to go into a new field of psychiatry, perhaps, child psychiatry? And maybe Forrest Sr. went on another one of his wild cross country runs and ended up marrying a tollbooth worker, abandoning his son. Perhaps the loss of his biological father made such a large effect on little Forrest that he became traumatized and ended up seeing things. And maybe Bruce Willis had another unfortunate accident with one of his patients and another suicide took place. Except instead of no longer being able to see red, this time the color ends up appearing everywhere. And now Bruce once again has to take on a new task to regain his therapy skills and help this trouble youth. It all comes together now, The Sixth Sense is a sequel to Color of Night and Forrest Gump. Now that’s what I call a twist.

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