US Release Date: 07-06-1994
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
- Tom Hanks, as
- Forrest Gump
- Robin Wright Penn, as
- Jenny Curran
- Gary Sinise, as
- Lt. Dan Taylor
- Mykelti Williamson, as
- Bubba Blue
- Sally Field, as
- Mrs. Gump
- Michael Conner Humphreys, as
- Young Forrest Gump
- Hanna Hall, as
- Young Jenny Curran
- Margo Moorer, as
- Haley Joel Osment as
- Forrest Gump Jr.
Tom Hanks won his second Oscar in a row for his portrayal of Forrest Gump.
I remember when Forrest Gump was released to almost unanimous praise, I actually avoided seeing it because I just assumed that it was over-rated. I must have been going through my movie snob phase at that time. When I finally did see it, several months after it was released, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It really did live up to everything I'd heard about it.
Yesterday I decided to watch it again for the first time in quite a few years, and I wondered if it would live up to my memory of it. I thought that maybe today it would seem a little cheesy. I was wrong again. There are a few moments of humor that don't seem to work quite as well now and that running sequence still could have been trimmed, but it holds up remarkably well.
In the mid-90s Tom Hanks was on fire. Hot off his Oscar win for Philadelphia, he starred in this movie, playing the title character, and created the most iconic character of the decade. His voice and mannerisms perfectly bring the simple-minded, but good-hearted Forrest Gump to life. Thanks to the script and his delivery, this is also one of the most quoted movies of the past 20 years. I defy anyone to watch it and not at some point repeat one of his lines in his voice. It can't be done.
The plot of the movie is the story of Forrest's life from the 1950s to the 1980s. It's also the story of America during that same time, with a strong emphasis on the 1960s. Born with an IQ in the 80s, but with the ability to run like the wind blows, Forrest is raised by his mother (Sally Fields) in Greenbo Alabama (that's in the county of Greenbo). He meets the love of his life, Jenny (Wright), an abused neighbor girl. Thanks to his running skills he is able to go to college and from there he goes into the army, where he meets his best friend and fellow brain-box, Bubba. He and Bubba are both sent to Vietnam where they meet Lt. Dan Taylor (Sinise). After Vietnam, Forrest becomes a famous Ping-Pong Player and Shrimpin' boat captain and eventually a millionaire. The one thing he wants though, is to be with Jenny, but her life has led her on a very different path than his, although that path does intersect with his on various and important occasions.
Using the then new CGI tools, director Robert Zemeckis was able to combine modern footage with film footage from the past and thus put Forrest into scenes with various historical figures, including George Wallace, JFK, John Lennon, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. The best use of computer imagery though is the way they were able to remove Gary Sinise's legs after he lost them in Vietnam. In fact, this entire movie deserves credit for making the way it uses technology in an unobtrusive manner that enhances the story without ever getting in the way.
Another great thing about this movie is the way it combines humor with drama. A lot of the movie is played for laughs, although to Hanks credit, you almost never laugh at Forrest, but always with him. It also manages to deliver real drama. The speech at the end of the movie that Hanks delivers, packs a real emotional punch. And at the moment when Forrest learns that he is a father, watch his face and you can see with that one scene why Hanks deserved his second best actor Oscar in a row.
In an embarrassment of riches, the movie also boasts a soundtrack that is nothing more than than the sounds of the time. It features some of the greatest hits of the 1960s and 1970s. All of the songs are classics and all of them are evocative of their era.
The story ends in the 1980s and I couldn't help but wonder what Forrest has been up to since then. I know that if Hanks and Zemeckis ever decided to make a sequel so we could find out, I wouldn't wait three months to see it. I'd be right there on opening weekend.
Gary Sinise as Lt. Dan Taylor and Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump.
Forrest Gump is a modern classic. It is epic in scope and effortlessly combines humor with pathos, like all the best movies do. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button tried hard to capture the magic of this movie but fell far short. Like Scott said there are dozens of memorable lines here and it is impossible to watch and not repeat some of them.
A few of my favorite moments include Bubba telling Forrest about shrimp, "...shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo... There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that's about it." Or when Lt. Dan curses God from the top of the shrimp boat mast during a tempest, “You call this a storm!?” And after Forrest has been running back and forth across the country and a group of sycophants are breathlessly waiting for him to speak, “I'm pretty tired... I think I'll go home now.”
My one and only complaint is the character of Jenny. Initially she is there to be a catharsis for Forrest but she quickly becomes a victim. One that Forrest must rescue again and again. Clearly she is the tragic figure in the movie as well as being Forrest’s love interest from afar. Her behavior seems erratic and downright annoying at times as she seems unable to find happiness.
A minor complaint however in a wonderful movie that captures a chunk of American history in a unique and vastly entertaining manner. Scott, I disagree with you only about a sequel. I don’t think they should do it. It would be like making a sequel to It’s a Wonderful Life or Casablanca. Some movies possess a magic that can never be duplicated. Forrest Gump is one such movie.
Jenny looking for, but never finding, peace in her life.
Forrest Gump is one of the best films of the 1990s. It holds up well in every way. Even my fifteen year old enjoyed it so much that he watched it twice. Time has yet to declare this movie a classic, but it certainly is on its way. The main character is memorable and, as Scott wrote, you cannot help but imitate his voice, and repeat his lines, "Stupid is as stupid does." "Lt Dan, ice cream!"
What I really like about Forrest is that his character is quite simply a decent person. He never speaks a disparaging word against anyone; not the Vietnamese who kill his friend Bubba, or the kids who throw rocks at him. He does not even speak badly of the hippy who hits Jenny. Forrest is a half wit, who faces life with a positive disposition not seen since Elwood P. Dobbs.
This movie contains many wonderful scenes and moments. I remember watching it in a theater with Scott, and said, "perfect" out loud as Forrest walks away from the grave and birds fly up from the field. Jenny always prayed for God to make her a bird so she could fly far away from her problems. Only in death did she finally obtain the peace she so desperately sought in life.
My other favorite scene is when Forrest first sees his son. At first it is funny, as Forrest does not get the obvious hint that he is the child's father. Then it turns dramatic as Forrest asks if the boy is normal. Finally it is poetic as Forrest declares that his son is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen in his life.
Forrest Gump will make you laugh, cry and cheer. It succeeds in every possible way a film can!
Photos © Copyright Paramount Pictures (1994)