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Film / Finding Forrester

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"You're the man now, dog!"
William Forrester

Finding Forrester is a movie from 2000 about a boy from a poor neighborhood in the Bronx with talents for writing and basketball. When his high test scores and athletic skills get him a scholarship to a prestigious prep school, he meets a famously reclusive author who helps lead him to success. The film is starred by Rob Brown as Jamal, Sean Connery as the titular William Forrester in what would end up being his penultimate film role before retiring in 2003. The cast is completed by Anna Paquin, F. Murray Abraham and Busta Rhymes.

The line "You're the man now, dog!" spawned the humor website YTMND.

This film provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion:
    • In his last scene, William wears a grey three-piece suit, similar to the one Sean Connery wore in Goldfinger.
    • Jamal jokingly suggests Forrester going home to Ireland. Connery's turn as Jim Malone in The Untouchables was infamous for playing an Irish-American cop with a Scottish accent.
  • Badass Boast: When Jamal asks if William, a writer who has only ever published one book, has ever entered a writing competition:
    William: Once.
    Jamal: Did you win?
    William: Well of course I won.
    Jamal: Like money or somethin'?
    William: [annoyed look] The Pulitzer.
    Jamal: ...Oh.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy / Obfuscating Stupidity: Jamal, prior to meeting William, intentionally performed averagely on his homework and testing in order to save face around his friends. Eventually, the school discovers just how smart Jamal actually is. William also calls Jamal out on this.
  • Deadpan Snarker: William is usually this, although Jamal has some moments too.
  • Grumpy Old Man: William Forrester is this at first, but he manages to get better over the course of the film.
  • Hands-On Approach: Jamal ostensibly teaching a girl how to play defense in basketball.
  • Intergenerational Friendship
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The gruff and irritable William.
  • Magical Negro
    • Jamal is a thoughtful and fleshed out version to William as he brings the old writer out of his shell. It gives depth to their student/teacher relationship.
    • It is also possible to see Forrester as a race-inverted version, a saintly, elderly figure whose main task is to dispense friendly, optimistic advice.
  • Meaningful Echo: "That's not exactly a soup question, is it?"
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Forrester is an obvious stand-in for J. D. Salinger.
  • One-Book Author: In-universe. William though he leaves the completed draft of another book for Jamal to include a foreword.
  • Oscar Bait: Inspirational story? A laid-back setting with loads of drama bubbling under the surface? Quotable quotes? It's all here. In fact, before it was even filmed, Mike Rich's screenplay was honored by the Academy with one of its Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting.
  • Plagiarism in Fiction: Jamal is accused of this when he turns in an essay written with William's help.... and lifting the title & opening paragraph from one of William's earlier works. Oops.
  • Precision F-Strike: Early on, William flippantly assigns Jamal to write "Five-thousand words on why you should stay the FUCK out of my home!" Jamal follows his instructions to the letter.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Professor Crawford arranging for Jamal to face punishment for plagiarism is treated as nothing more than the bitter actions of a jerk getting revenge on a student who verbally bested him in class. While Crawford is motivated by this and a long-standing grudge against Forrester, he does have reason to be pissed given that Forrester had sabotaged his own hopes of publishing a book by lying to potential publishers about obtaining Forrester's non-existent second novel instead. As for Jamal, Crawford was right in accusing him of plagiarizing part of his essay without the original author's permission, even if Forrester retroactively sanctions it later on.
  • Reclusive Artist: William is this at the beginning of the movie, but Jamal convinces him to experience the outside world by the end.invoked
  • Right Through the Wall: Jamal's neighbors.
  • Scotireland: A bit of a Running Gag.
  • Secretly Dying: Revealed at the end of the movie that William had been diagnosed with terminal cancer several years before meeting Jamal, which explains a lot of their earlier interaction.
  • Secret Test of Character: When Jamal confirms he wrote everything Forrester read, Forrester observes matter-of-factly, "...And you're black." When Jamal asks what the hell he meant by that, Forrester replies that people in this neighborhood are going to judge him for that whether he likes it or not, whether it's his neighborhood friends or the administration of his private school. Jamal already reached this conclusion his own, Forrester is just putting it into words.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The scene where Jamal finds out that William dies has oddly upbeat music. Although it may have been to get across the point that Forrester died happily.
  • Spiritual Successor: Often said to be so to Gus Van Sant's own Good Will Hunting.
  • Throwing the Fight: Jamal misses a pair of free-throws at the end of a game on purpose because he's tired of the way he's being treated by the administrators of his school.
  • Totally Radical: The memetic quote above is an in-story example by Forrester.


Video Example(s):


Jamal Wallace

A kid from the Bronx shows up an arrogant professor by naming the quotes of several famous authors and gets booted out of class for it.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / SmarterThanYouLook

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