Starring-Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise
Top 100 Films-#94
Reviewed January 22, 2017
Awarded a bevy of Academy Awards in the year 1994, Forrest Gump is a film that is engrained in many people’s memories since the film was a monster hit in the mid 1990’s. Some complained that the unrealistic nature of the film was silly, and the story too saccharine, but the film is an innocent, sweet piece about a simple-minded man’s journey through life and the insurmountable success that he achieves. I adore the film largely from a sentimental standpoint and the memories that watching the film years later, conjures up. I find the film to be a comfort.
Zemeckis, certainly a feel-good film director (Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?), carves a whimsical tale of a fellow, Forrest Gump (played brilliantly by Tom Hanks), slow-witted, but a gentle soul, from Alabama, and his decades long journey through life. His lifelong love is Jenny (played by Robin Wright), who is a troubled girl and relies on Forrest over the course of their friendship-spanning decades. Forrest is always in the right place at the right time and influences the events of history in his own innocent way.
Forrest Gump is unique in its clever use of editing to incorporate Forrest into real-life historical events, which is a big part of the appeal of the film. In one instance, Forrest meets with Richard Nixon and reveals the Watergate scandal. He also meets President John F. Kennedy after winning a football scholarship. And who can possibly ever forget the numerous lines made famous from the film- “Stupid is as stupid does”, and “Life is a like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.”, to name just two.
What I love most about the film is that it has heart and the relationships that Forrest shares with the central characters in his life are rich. Forrest’s haggard, but kind mother (Sally Field) loves her son and they share a tender, emotional relationship. When Forrest enlists in the Army during the Vietnam war, his grizzled commanding officer, Lt. Dan Taylor (an Oscar winning performance by Gary Sinise), surprisingly becomes one of Forrest’s closest friends. The film takes a darker turn when we begin to see a more human side to Taylor after a horrible accident, which leaves him without legs. To counterbalance this tragedy, Forrest is comically wounded in the buttocks.
I am not sure if I love or loathe the character of Jenny. Wright is perfect at giving her some vulnerability and her terrible upbringing can excuse some of her actions and taking advantage of Forrest for arguably her own gain. Still she has Forrest’s heart so she cannot be all that bad.
A favorite scene occurs in Washington as Forrest speaks at an anti-war rally. Jenny, in the crowd, recognizes Forrest and their reunion is sweet. Jenny, now a hippee and expelled from school, returns to Forrest’s life.
The fate of both Jenny and Mrs. Gump are scenes that will undoubtedly require tissues to get through as they are tender and emotional as can possibly be. Zemeckis’s Forrest Gump has emotion, sweetness, and heart, and those are nice qualities for a film to have. It is not too sappy or overwrought or manipulative, instead providing an honest story.