That’s true of the speech he gives at Suzanne and Joe’s rehearsal dinner, no matter which version we consider. Forrest writes “a vicious, destructive act of character assassination” designed to derail the wedding, but seeing Suzanne’s delight, he takes to heart his late father-in-law’s toast at his own wedding and remembers his pledge to make Suzanne happy. He shares his regrets at the rehearsal dinner:

“When I married Suzanne, it was my priority in life to keep her happy, but I let other things come first. I don’t know why I did that. That was stupid. But I still feel that it’s my job to keep her happy, which is why I have something that I need to say. I’ve been watching you guys and… you’re happy, you’re really happy. You’re obviously really happy. So my mission is accomplished, basically.”


Considering the circumstances (and ignoring Suzanne’s pleas that he not speak at all), this is both graceful and generous. It would be genuinely touching if he didn’t undo it immediately and at length, reminiscing about the high points of the MacNeils’ marriage, confessing his loneliness, proposing marriage to his ex-wife on the eve of her remarriage, and finally wrestling with the groom in the banquet room floor. Forrest’s voiceover intones solemnly, “Words have power to move people, sometimes in positive ways, sometimes in very negative ways. Public speakers must be prepared for that. And they sometimes have to back up their words with force,” as he crawls over to bite Joe on the shin.

“And if that doesn’t work, there are always more words,” his voiceover continues, and Forrest reclaims the microphone to stun Suzanne—and all her guests—with the revelation that Joe is a fraud and a cheater, she is a dupe, and Forrest arranged their meeting in the first place. “I was catfishing you, Suzanne,” he tells her with relish, and with enough details to prove his words true.


When she first allows him to stay at the rehearsal dinner, Suzanne begs Forrest, “Just don’t be yourself. Just be somebody different.” But that’s been the problem all along: He’s been trying, and failing, to be someone else, to be an everyman. He’s abdicated his life to Review, skewed the experiences with his own unconscious contortions, then misinterpreted their meaning in his portentous recaps. In this way, Review deftly skewers the act of criticism itself, ruminating on the impossibility of evaluating any piece of art or culture in isolation. The review always reflects on the reviewer, no matter how objective they strive to be.


Words are important, and so are actions. Put together, they are—as Forrest would say—literally all we have to convey our thoughts, our goals, and our values to the world, and to those we love. In “Buried Alive, 6 Star Review, Public Speaking,” Forrest is on the cusp of understanding that his actions aren’t consistent with his words, and that neither is consistent with his intentions, with his promises, or with the person he wants to be. Over and over, he approaches the truth that the person he is for the sake of Review isn’t the person he wants to be, and over and over, he steps back from that realization.

Stray observations