Movie Name: Forrest Gump
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Release Date(s): July 6, 1994
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) has lived an incredible life. Journey from his Southern country home, Gump has led a life meeting Presidents, battling in Vietnam, and becoming a successful businessman. There is one thing that Forrest has never fully understood, and that is his love for Jenny (Robin Wright). Be it becoming a war hero and the loss of his friend Bubba (Mykelti Williamson) or being a shrimp boat owner with Lieutenant Dan (Gary Sinise), Jenny is always on Forrest’s mind but is his love enough to save her?
Directed by Robert Zemeckis, Forrest Gump adapts the 1986 novel by Winston Groom. Forrest Gump became a phenomenon and was the winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Hanks), Best Visual Effects, and Best Adapted Screenplay with nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Sinise), Best Art Director, Best Cinematography, Best Makeup, Best Original Score, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing. The line “Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get” was deemed one of the most popular lines of all time. A dispute between Groom and the makers of the film over royalties led to some controversy but the film was admitted into the National Film Registry for preservation by the Library of Congress.
Forrest Gump is one of those tricky movies. I enjoyed it when I was watching it, but afterwards you stopped and thought about it, and realized it was so-so. The fact that it became so popular and was so quoted also doesn’t help make it very likeable. Instead of being charming, Forrest Gump just become schmaltzy.
Forrest is kind of a bumbling Twain-like character or even someone along the lines of Ignatius Jacques Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces. Though being dense, he often spouts wisdom and proves brains don’t equal success or fame. It is in this that the story blooms but also fails. Gump’s mental handicap is mostly just a tool used to propel the story…it is inconsistent and illogical and since it is used as a device, it feels a little insensitive. The only moment where Forrest seems like a dimensional character is when he asks if his son is stupid…and if he can recognize he’s not at the level of a majority of those around him, the story makes even less sense.
Tom Hanks is another aspect of Forrest Gump that I don’t like. I liked Tom Hanks’ early comedic work but after he got “serious” in Philadelphia, Hanks lost it for me. Hanks’ delivery often gets on my nerves more than inspires or moves me.
What does work for me is Forrest Gump’s supporting cast. Sally Field is nice as Forrest’s determined mother (but it does feel weird since she is only ten years older than Hanks and was Hanks’ love interest in Punchline). Both Sinese and Wright shine in the film. Robin Wright (then Robin Wright-Penn) really plans Jenny much more complex and rounded than Forrest and Lieutenant Dan also has the same character traits…The film really feels more about them and that gleamed moments is a storytelling style, but not one I love (especially if I’m not in love with the main character). The movie also featured the first film role of Haley Joel Osment who plays Forrest’s son.
When Forrest Gump came out, it was lauded for its special effects and the combining of Tom Hanks in historical moments. The movie is loaded with Forrest changing history through his unwitting actions and edited footage of Gump meeting with Presidents and other historical figures…Unfortunately, time has not been kind to Forrest Gump in this respect. The altered footage often looks like a Conan O’Brien sketch with the lips of the characters moving independent of the rest of their face…be it Lyndon Johnson or JFK…it just looks weird.
Forrest Gump just tries way too hard. It is even harder to swallow when you consider that it beat out both Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption for Best Picture. With Forrest Gump, the best man didn’t win and some will agree while others would strongly disagree. There is still a chance that Forrest Gump will someday return. Winston Groom published a sequel Gump and Co. and there is often talk of developing it into another film…I hope not.
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