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Overall Rating

Awesome: 6.98%
Worth A Look: 17.44%
Average: 23.26%
Pretty Bad: 18.6%
Total Crap33.72%

7 reviews, 44 user ratings

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Forgotten, The
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by Rob Gonsalves

2 stars

"Paramnesia," a psychiatric term bandied about in "The Forgotten," is more or less the reverse of amnesia -- you "remember" things that didn't happen, suffering from the delusion that fantasies are real. I find myself wishing for a spot of paramnesia just now; I wish I could remember the last 91 minutes as a well-spent time at the movies.

The Forgotten could then live on in my memory as either a plausible thriller grounded in reality, or a wildly implausible thriller that's at least fun to watch. But who wants to see -- or remember -- a wildly implausible thriller that's also grim and humorless?

Director Joseph Ruben used to have a lot more fun at work. The witty horror-fantasy Dreamscape (1985) was his entry into the mainstream, and The Stepfather (1987) was some kind of dark-comic classic. Then he appeared to decide he wanted to make blandly uninvolving thrillers about threats to the family. The dull abusive-husband hit Sleeping with the Enemy (1991) and the rancid Bad Seed rewrite The Good Son (1994) displayed depressing evidence of a quirky filmmaker whose wit had deserted him, and now The Forgotten, Ruben's first film in five years, begins with the grief of a mother (Julianne Moore) whose nine-year-old son died in an airplane crash. Where the movie goes from there is worthy of the wacky Ruben of Dreamscape, except it's all taken deadly seriously.

Moore's memories of her son are challenged one by one -- an altered photo here, an empty scrapbook there. Everyone around her, including baffled husband Anthony Edwards and patient shrink Gary Sinise, remembers nothing about her son; they insist that he never existed and that Moore suffers from, yes, paramnesia. But she knows they're wrong, you see; she knows. If, as Roger Ebert suggested, the movie had left it ambiguous whether Moore was insane, we might've had a worthwhile mind-blower here. But since Moore is the star, and this is a $42 million major-studio film, we can't be allowed to doubt the heroine, or ourselves, for even a minute.

The plot clutters itself with standard paranoid clichés -- the shadowy agents stalking Moore, the good cop (Alfre Woodard) who suspects that Moore is on to something (and who turns out to serve no purpose in the plot at all), and a blank-faced man (Linus Roache), named only "A Friendly Man" in the credits, who turns up every so often, looking most unfriendly. Moore finds another parent (Dominic West) whose daughter died in the plane crash; he has forgotten her, but has turned to the bottle to blot out ... something. Eventually he believes Moore, and the two go on the run, sleeping together in motels without much sexual tension and improbably avoiding (and in one case, capturing) agents who presumably are trained for this sort of thing. West's character is a former hockey player, but the script doesn't even have the wit to show him body-checking one of the agents into a wall.

Is the mystery explained? Oh, yes. A Friendly Man pops up again, like the paper-clip guy in Microsoft Word, to tell you everything you need to know. Some characters are abruptly vacuumed high into the air, as if aborted from the screenplay once they've outlived their usefulness (actually, going to the movies would be more fun if more films did this -- half the cast of Sky Captain could get sucked into the ozone within the first reel); other characters are simply, no pun intended, forgotten, like the kindly neighbor woman (Jessica Hecht) who tells Moore "We should hang out more!" but then vanishes from the film after one other scene. Maybe she just really, really didn't want to hang out.

By the end, everything is set right, as in Ruben's other nuclear-family thrillers. I was reminded of another horror film concerning a mother surrounded by people who said she was nuts but who were actually conspiring against her; that movie was Rosemary's Baby, which ended on an altogether more chilling note of mother-child reunion.

Of course, the difference is that "Rosemary's Baby" is still regarded as a classic 25 years later, whereas "The Forgotten" will most certainly live up to its title.

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originally posted: 12/29/06 08:57:59
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell it sucks u will forget it fast 1 stars
7/09/09 cialis ilman reseptiä iTtHDM vozixzjp wowfhhdo drqkbquf 2 stars
11/23/08 Andrew Silly Silly Mess .. Utterly incoherent crap!!!! 1 stars
5/21/08 Keith I'm no film critic, but this is garbage, used to start bumfires,$42 mil budget,im disgusted 1 stars
2/18/07 David Pollastrini I saw it and have no memory of it. must have sucked 1 stars
2/16/07 Jenni Horrible, horrible, horrible! 1 stars
12/05/06 Stanley Thai A good film, no matter how rediculous it got. 4 stars
6/30/06 MP Bartley Very strange, and brave to keep this strangeness til the end, with no pat answers. 3 stars
6/09/06 Frank Rountree Just another movie to escape into for a brief time, it was fair 3 stars
5/08/06 Jim One would think advanced beings could come up with better experiments. 2 stars
10/21/05 Bad Critic Aliens suck! There was a pretty cool car crash, though. 2 stars
9/02/05 Tom Burns The movie had some very shocking parts for first time viewers of the film. 4 stars
8/19/05 ES boring, confusing, silly, irrelevant. I could go on . . . 2 stars
8/01/05 Taylor Fladgate Where did all those airborne people go??? 4 stars
7/18/05 Littlepurch Not perfect but really enjoyed it. Scary, mysterious and suspenseful. 4 stars
5/08/05 Valerie Sort of Scifi, but pretty interesting 4 stars
4/25/05 Quigley pretty great scares but way too predictable with horrid acting and bullet hole-ridden plot 3 stars
4/10/05 indrid cold A good movie about aliens is very rare. See "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." 2 stars
3/20/05 Dick Grill Incredibly bad. 1 stars
2/28/05 Sum Yung Guy Uh, Aliens? OK, sure, whatever. Should have locked her up in the end. . . 3 stars
2/18/05 Dan Great ass movie, kind of predictable though. 5 stars
2/07/05 ELI Didn't make much was...odd. ending did suck though 3 stars
2/05/05 Valerie White not bad/not great 3 stars
2/03/05 haha makes me want to rape a captured monkey, and have an aids fag suck my shitty dick, peace! 4 stars
1/29/05 jj This is an excellent emotional sci-fi thriller!!! 5 stars
1/24/05 Darryl Just an okay film. Agree with everyone who thinks the ending is stupid! 3 stars
1/22/05 jeff good story line but horrible ending. 2 stars
1/22/05 Tjalda L. Schiel No charisma between any of the actors. Lousy ending. Bad, bad, bad. 1 stars
1/16/05 Jeff Anderson A BIG SURPRISE! Thrilling and Joseph Ruben's best film since THE STEPFATHER 5 stars
12/30/04 Jenna Furr Suspenseful promise falls apart after JM's hands don't bleed when she falls on glass shards 2 stars
12/02/04 Tom Not brilliant but good enough 4 stars
10/28/04 Kathleen Fantastic writting and acting. Interesting story line. Everyone loved it! 5 stars
10/04/04 T Money ... I ALMOST forgot that this movie sucked 1 stars
9/30/04 Katheryn Gaping plot holes, ludicrous ending, don't bother 2 stars
9/30/04 Kevin After "Laws of Attraction" and this, Julianne Moore needs to fire her agent. 1 stars
9/29/04 C. Cunningham It had such a switch in genre that it sort of bothered me. 3 stars
9/28/04 Shten A shocking, engrossing tale 5 stars
9/27/04 Elizabeth Very hokey, and gets more and more ludicrous. 2 stars
9/26/04 Coolhand Save $8 and watch 2 episodes of X-files and one episode of Millenium... 2 stars
9/26/04 Naka No. 1 stars
9/25/04 Kris what? oh I'm reviewing this? I forgot. 1 stars
9/23/04 el burro Worth eight bucks. 4 stars
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  24-Sep-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 18-Jan-2005



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