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Movie Review

Finding Forrester

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language, some sexual reference

Reviewed by: Artie Megibben
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teen to Adult
Genre:
Drama, Comedy
Length:
2 hr. 15 min.
Year of Release:
2000
USA Release:
_____
Sean Connery and Rob Brown in “Finding Forrester”
Featuring: Sean Connery, F. Murray Abraham, Anna Paquin, Tom Mullica, Busta Rhymes
Director: Gus Van Sant
Producer: Jonathan King, Dany Wolf, Laurence Mark, Rhonda Tollefson, Sean Connery
Distributor: Columbia Tristar

Gus Van Sant seems to have a soft spot in his heart for working-class boy geniuses—for once again he has blessed the movie-going public with a rehashing of the successful formula we last saw in his Oscar-winning “Good Will Hunting”. Look for Matt Damon (Will) in a cameo-role at the end of the film—as if to say, “Hey, haven’t you seen this plot before?” No matter—this under-privileged-Brain meets over-privileged-Mentor” formula is always a crowd-pleaser. And even if it’s not as Oscar-worthy as its predecessor, it’s still a good movie.

Instead of a working-class white kid in South Boston in need of sage psychoanalysis, “Forrester” serves up a working-class black kid in the South Bronx in need of sage creative writing advice. And he gets it too, from Sean Connery (a.k.a. William Forrester), a world-famous novelist who wrote the Great American Novel only to never publish again. Connery’s reclusive character has apparently spent the past forty years holed up in a South Bronx apartment spying on the “hood” and yellow-breasted warblers through his rear window. (Wait-a-minute! I think I’ve just discovered another warmed-over plot!)

Anyway, Jamal, our black boy-genius—who, by the way, is also murder on the b-ball court—breaks into Forrester’s apartment on a dare, inadvertently leaves a back-pack chocked full of promising prose, and gets himself a cranky, old Scottsman for a mentor.

Like “Good Will Hunting”, there is a lot of tough love, mutual psychological breakthroughs and even a little romance—interracial at that. Rich girl, Anna Paquin, falls for our other-side-of-the-tracks genius—played to a fare-thee-well by an introspective Rob Brown—no Chris Rock wisecracks from this serious, young man.

Unlike “Good Will Hunting”, discreet Christians will be glad to hear there is no sex in this Hollywood blockbuster. No violence. No car chases. But of course, enough street-wise profanity to make you believe that these kids are really from the Bronx. YO’ MUDDAH! Anyway this is definitely not one for the little shavers (they would be bored to tears for one.) But it is a well-acted and well-directed movie, despite the re-treaded plot. Plus, it celebrates one of America’s great myths—an underprivileged boy Hemmingway from the other side of town can overcome poverty, prejudice and the absence of a father and “make it” in the good ol’ U.S. of A,--provided he plays basketball like a mamma-jammer. (By the way if you don’t know what a “mamma-jammer” is, you won’t get half of the street banter in this movie).

All in all, “Finding Forrester” is an enjoyable, uplifting film. All but the very young or language-offended Christian may enjoy this morality play concerning the sort of inner-city mentoring that more Christians should be actively involved in. You know, bearing each other’s burdens and all that…


Viewer Comments
I saw this movie on an airplane so I can’t comment on vulgarity, since in-flight movies are cleaned-up. However, I will offer some comments on the movie, itself. This was a very average movie, with a variation on a storyline that we have all seen before. Finding Forester was full of cliches, such as a poor black kid who was supposed to be a literary genius AND a basketball superstar. This might have been more plausible with the right actor, but the actor who played Jamal was not very convincing. The veteran actor, Sean Connery, did a respectable acting job, but it wasn’t anything extraordinary. All in all, this was another attempt by Hollywood to capitalize on previous movies, such as Good Will Hunting. My Ratings: [2½]
—David Sayers, age 46
Makes you think about the kinds of questions we ask (soup questions) and it makes you think about friendships and mentorship that should happen in [the] church. Shows examples of loyalty to one’s friends and integrity to one’s word. That is needed the most from all of us (Christians the most). I would highly recommend it. Language can be rough and I think it should not be heard by young or old. But the message was great. We should not hide the light behind doors but help and teach the next generation what we learned! My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Paul Malantonio, age 30
Would see it again and plan to buy it when it comes out on video. Makes you think about the kinds of questions we ask (soup questions) and strength to NOT plan the games others try to impose on us. Shows examples of loyalty to one’s friends and integrity to one’s word. I would highly recommend it. Language can be rough, but nothing worse than I hear in the mall or anywhere else people gather. My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Pam, age 43
Yes, there is some swearing, but unlike many movies which throw around profanity indiscriminately, this seems more knit into the lives of these characters. This was a refreshing film—no nudity, no sexual innuendo, no explosions or de rigeur car crashes—just an entertaining story centered around that old-fashioned movie idea, character development. The film has some surprising twists and is refreshing free of cliches and stereotypes. My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Ron Reames, age 54
GREAT FILM! I thought this was one of the most uplifting films of the year. The only reason to stay away from it would be for the strong language. There are about 40 swears including at least two “F”’s. Aside from that, it is one of the best films of the year. My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Anon, age Adult
I think this is the best movie I have ever seen. The complaints that the plot was reused don’t hold any water with me. How many original plots are there in movies today? Shakespeare’s plots all drew from previous sources, yet his plays are great classics. So that’s not a valid point. I thought that the movie was excellent as far as movie making quality goes. The setting of the movie was beautiful and the music was some of the best I’ve heard in a movie. I thought Sean Connery and Rob Brown were both excellent in their roles. I also thought this movie was twelve times better than “Good Will Hunting.” Better acting and better story. Just because the plotline was familiar and the commercials gave away much of the plot does not mean it’s completely worthless to see it. Suspense isn’t everything, and in some movies, isn’t even anything. As far as morality, I was very pleased with this movie. There is some language, but I didn’t find it excessive, and I don’t think language is as much of a stumbling block as violence or sexual scenes, both of which there was none. My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Gina, age 20
GREAT FILM! I thought this was one of the most uplifting films of the year. The only reason to stay away from it would be for the strong language. There are about 40 swears including at least two “F”s. Aside from that, it is one of the best films of the year. My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Anon, age Adult
I think this is the best movie I have ever seen. The complaints that the plot was reused don’t hold any water with me. How many original plots are there in movies today? Shakespeare’s plots all drew from previous sources, yet his plays are great classics. So that’s not a valid point. I thought that the movie was excellent as far as movie making quality goes. The setting of the movie was beautiful and the music was some of the best I’ve heard in a movie. I thought Sean Connery and Rob Brown were both excellent in their roles. I also thought this movie was twelve times better than “Good Will Hunting.” Better acting and better story. Just because the plotline was familiar and the commercials gave away much of the plot does not mean it’s completely worthless to see it. Suspense isn’t everything, and in some movies, isn’t even anything. As far as morality, I was very pleased with this movie. There is some language, but I didn’t find it excessive, and I don’t think language is as much of a stumbling block as violence or sexual scenes, both of which there was none. My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Gina, age 20
Comments from young people
There was some serious cussing, and a lot of mean and un-Christian people, who commit sins (like cussing, and telling one kid to go to this old man’s house and take something for proof [in which the kid does]. There is hardly any action, other than the basketball parts, so I do not recommend it for anyone under 13. My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Blake W., age 13
Well, I must say that I was slightly disappointed with this film. I guess I was expecting something that was half as good as “Good Will Hunting.” However, what I got was a “run of the mill” drama. It’s like a Hallmark Movie for the big screen. I’m sorry to say it, but I could predict almost EVERYTHING that happened in the movie. Why? Well, partly because many key parts were shown in the previews. See, you’re supposed to show just enough to make people want to see the movie, not give everything away in forty-five seconds. Don’t get me wrong, the movie had its moments [which all came from Connery and Brown] but there weren’t enough of those moments. “Good Will Hunting” was original, this movie was like when someone tries to make a copy of a copy. It just doesn’t get the job done… My Ratings: [Average / 2½]
—Jason Eaken, age 17
All I am going to say is that this was one of the greatest movies ever made. I can hardly remember any profanity in this movie, and the acting was wonderful. Few movies made even now mix blacks and whites together as equals, but this one shows that both races can have a true relationship. My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
—Jason Stover, age 16
Movie Critics
…refreshing compared to other movies…
—Dr. Ted Baehr, Movieguide
…Unnecessary vulgar language detracts significantly…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…2 F-words, several anatomical and scatological references, some mild obscenities, a few religious profanities and racial slurs…
—Kids-in-Mind