It should come as no surprise that Forrest Gump, the Oscar-winning 1994 movie about how a bumbling white guy shaped modern America, was going to have a sequel. After its success proved that audiences were willing to accept a dim Southerner who unwittingly stumbles into the era’s most defining moments, a follow-up was being planned in the early ‘00s.
The problem, according to a Yahoo! Entertainment interview with Gump/Gump 2 screenwriter Eric Roth, was 9/11. Roth turned his finished script in on 9/10. So, yeah.
The Gump 2 plot somehow begins ill-conceived and only gets worse. Roth told Yahoo! that his plan for the sequel would see the young Forrest Junior, recently having lost his mother Jenny to AIDS, learn that he had the disease as well. The story would take place in the ‘90s “and people wouldn’t go to class with [Forrest Jr.] in Florida,” Roth says. “We had a funny sequence where they were [desegregation] busing in Florida at the same time, so people were angry about either the busing, or [their] kids having to go to school with the kid who had AIDS.”
Forrest Gumper wouldn’t just tackle era-appropriate cultural issues, though. It, like its predecessor, would find ways to get Hanks involved in a chocolate box’s worth of memorable historic moments.
“I had him in the back of O.J.’s Bronco,” Roth tells Yahoo! “He would look up occasionally, but they didn’t see him in the rearview mirror, and then he’d pop down.” As if this wasn’t enough, Gump would also have danced with Princess Diana at a charity event and found himself caught up in the Oklahoma City bombing.
The reason it didn’t go forward, apparently, is how the story no longer felt like it had “meaning anymore” after 9/11. Long story short, a major plot point was meant to hang on Gump befriending an indigenous woman (after taking a job as “a bingo caller on a reservation”) who teaches nursery school “at a government building in Oklahoma city.” Gump sits on a bench, “waiting for her to have lunch and all of a sudden the building behind him blows up.”
Roth, Hanks, and Gump director Robert Zemeckis met on September 11 to discuss the movie and, as Roth remembers, “ … everything felt meaningless,” including his story about a hapless American tripping his way through the last years of the 20th century. Considering how the nearly two decades since the movie was canned turn out, though, the terrible-sounding Gump 2 plot sounds like it couldn’t have fit our times more perfectly.
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