Finding Forrester (2000)

FINDING FORRESTER, director Gus Van Sant's okay (if overlong) fol-
low-up to GOOD WILL HUNTING, is another drama about another bright 
kid paired with another pained professional.  This time it's new-
comer Rob Brown as a basketball-playing, Bronx high-schooler whose 
both a voracious reader and an aspiring writer and who hides his 
literary interests from his buds.  Later, he's dared by the latter 
to investigate "The Window," a reclusive, old, white (and semi-ur-
ban legend, played by Sean Connery) who watches them from the apart-
ment building across from their (ball) court.  And, in one of those 
only-in-the-movies coincidences, the mystery man is actually a Great 
Writer, long self-removed from society and, surprise surprise, both 
willing and able (with accompanying grumpiness) to fill the various  
roles that the kid requires:  writing coach, father figure, and, 
later, useful ally against a vindictive English teacher (F. Murray 
Abraham, again disrespected) at the prep school the kid's received a 
scholarship at.  And, of course, the young man has plenty to offer 
the old man, like an eventual coaxing back out and among others.

Yawn, but far less predictable than you'd think.  Van Sant wisely 
lets the material ebb and flow, be it extended basketball footage 
here or writing exercises there.  The film is also exceptionally 
easy to look at, with softer photography and just enough grit to 
make the realism realistic.  (No violent crime or obvious drug prob-
lems in *this* inner-city!)  Even the soundtrack is somewhat ster-
ile, lacking, for example, the cacophony of car horns and crying 
babies heard in the year's earlier GIRLFIGHT.  (Instead, we're play-
ed quiet jazz. Bleech.)  On the acting front, Brown, a newcomer, is 
an honest, innocent-looking lightweight.  He's not the *strongest* 
Christmas presence (ha!), but he's an agreeable one.  Connery, on 
the other hand, is all cranky fun, grumbling and grousing through 
every scene.  He's best when he's pissy, I think.  Anna Paquin also 
appears as a potential love interest.  She never blends, though, 
thanks to a curiously stilted performance.  Same for rapper Busta 
Rhymes, who looks half-stoned half the time as Brown's character's 
older brother.  

Though a dramatic story at its core, FINDING FORRESTER delivers some 
great guffaws, such as Connery expounding on coffee-shop book-read-
ings, or the kid sassing back about "and" at the start of sentences.  
You'll laugh, but you probably won't cry.  Regrettably, the film ul-
timately plays in a mostly perfunctory fashion and certainly lackd 
the crowd-pleasing gusto of GOOD WILL HUNTING.  Of course, we *have* 
seen some of this before, like Brown delivering to Connery the same 
"what's the point?" speech that Matt Damon did to Robin Williams!
[ Insert own sarcastic comment about plagiarism ]  Beware the end-
ing, too.  It's awful-- shamelessly overacted and entirely inexplic-
able, as during a reading, complete with awe-filled audience reac-
tions, but with the presumably inspiring words blanked out by music!  
Egad.  Stay till end at own risk...  (Rated "PG-13"/138 min.)
Grade: B-

Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

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Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros