The Forgotten (2004)
(Release Date: September 24, 2004)


No, Scully, this is not an X-File!

J.C. Mašek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

During Drama class, my Junior Year in High School my friend Jacqueline Dumas and I teamed up for that week's big lesson on scenery building. On paper it seemed easier than Traci Lords - take one of ten textures (carpet, sheetrock, burlap, denim, etc.) and paint what you see on a self-built canvass. We chose wrinkled brown paper as our design, and we worked hard on painting our best damned throw-away grocery bag. And... we failed like Beavis and Butt-Head from gym class. It was striking how little like wrinkled brown paper (or anything else beyond forcibly expectorated bodily humors) this looked. All we had to do was copy something whe had right in front of us, and we screwed it up one wall and down the other like a weightless prostitute!

Which brings me to today's review! Julianne Moore, Anthony Edwards, Alfre Woodard, Gary Sinise and Dominic West star in The Forgotten the latest thriller from the director of the '80's cheese-pie Dreamscape and the writer of 1989's The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. There are a lot of creepy moments and legitimately shocking starts, but I'd probably have liked this movie a lot better if I hadn't seen it before, done better, multiple times.

I'm not without my sympathies here because, like Jackie and I back in 1991, all writer Gerald Di Pego and director Joseph Ruben had to do was copy a product already created, and they still managed to make The Forgotten a bit of a Chore! Moore stars as Telly Paretta who makes up for her name being stolen from a Muppet by appearing in a plot stolen from the original Twilight Zone! Telly and husband Jim (Edwards) have lost their son to a plane, seemingly lost at sea. He deals with it slightly better than she does, until reality begins to bend around her and evidence of her son's existence begins to slip away like the futures of Di Pego and Ruben. After this, Jim is doing light-years better than Telly is. Her shrink (Sinise) won't believe her, her husband won't believe her, and her friends won't believe her, and for all the evidence, Telly's no more ever had a son than I've ever had a contract with Lucasfilm LTD!

At this point she enlists the help of Ash Correll (West), who began drinking the very day that Telly lost her son, and hasn't stopped for 14 months. He can't figure out why, until Telly convinces him that his daughter (whom he doesn't remember... at first) was also lost on the plane young Sam pulled an Amelia Earhart on.

This is good, exciting and fun... derivative, yeah, but good, exciting and fun. Unfortunately, it's at that very point that "The Feds" show up, eliminating any and all confusion over what series they're ripping off now... Hey, this is either a "tribute" to The X-Files or Di Pego has listened to Frank Black's The Cult of Ray album one too many damned times. The Mulder and Scully references never seem to stop, even when the fugitive West and Moore are just inches ahead of Woodard's Det. Anne Pope and inches behind Linus (should have gotten a stage-name) Roache's enigmatic key to the whole shebang. The dude's even credited as "A Friendly Man", a definitively X-Files scripting device.

To be fair, the film makers' liberal purloin of The X-Files and The Twilight Zone does slow down somewhat as they begin to pilfer instead the entire Shyamalan catalog. The music, the angles, the colors just suck up to Night like Al Gore to Bill Clinton. However, there are few textual surprises, and a complete dearth of wows when the ending you saw coming in the second act finally appears on screen.

It's a shame, too because the all star cast does tend to shine in a lot of areas when the dialogue doesn't get too damned far into the Melodramatic sneeze of cheese that this script is marred with. Julianne Moore and Gary "Dude, where's my Career" Sinise are the best here, followed by the intense Woodard and West. Only Moore tends to really appear to take the script seriously, while the others are all wishing they were heading up the next CSI! The special effects are interesting and actually result in some legitimate starts and a moody creepiness. However, much more commonly, the whole shootin' match is about surprises and stuns much more than the unseen scariness that made their source material so compelling.

It's all a borrowed story from multiple better sources, and, sadly, it all translates to the screen as successfully as poor Jackie and J.C.'s pictures of used paper bags translated onto the canvass. If you make a good effort at ripping off others, that's not as honorable as making a good effort at, say, curing Cancer. On the other hand, if you make a so-so effort at ripping off others and it still bites knees... well, that's not a good thing, Homer! Two and One Half Stars out of Five for the appropriately named new film The Forgotten! This could be one hell of a prescient title. So until Julianne Moore decides to reprise her yum-a-licious bottomless role in Short Cuts by appearing starkers in an Outer Limits rip-off, I'll see you in the Next Reel.

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Forgotten (2004) Reviewed by J.C. Mašek III
who is solely responsible for this article
and for the fact that... um... um... I forget.
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