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Forrest Gump (1994)

February 11, 2010

9/10 Magic Legs

Still upsets me that this won Best Picture over Shawshank, but who am I kidding, this movie’s the bomb.

Forrest Gump is about a gifted and utterly endearing (if not a tad dimwitted) boy from the backwoods of Alabama who takes life as it comes to him, meets a handful of fascinating people as he grows up and ends up playing a major role in some of the biggest events of the ’60s and ’70s without even trying and without even caring all that much about it either.

This is one of those movies that I always find myself getting sucked into every time I come across it on TV and after seeing a lot of subpar character-driven movies as of late like Crazy Heart, it just makes me appreciate Forrest that much more. Honestly, the four big characters in this movie are nothing short of iconic and, with the exception of Hanks, the actors who played them are never ever going to escape their on-screen personas for the rest of their days.

Gary Sinise will always be Lieutenant Dan, Robin Wright will always be “Jen-nay” and Mykelti Williamson will always be “Bubba Gump” – who cares if his last name isn’t Gump, that’s just the way it is, dude. But the good thing is that these are all performances any actor would be more than proud to be recognized for. Jesus, I would get the biggest kick out of folks calling me “Lieutenant Dan” for the rest of my life, how cool would that be?

Anyway, the dialogue is great (even though the script is chock full of quotes that still make me shudder and think, “Please shut the eff up,” every time some douche thinks he’s time warped back to 1994), and the constant mix of fact with fiction never gets old, but the characters are really what tie it all together for me. Even though Hanks won the Oscar, it’s nice that it doesn’t feel like everyone else is just playing second fiddle. They’re all as integral to the story as Forrest himself because it’s the people in his life that end up being the most important things, far more so than showing his ass to LBJ or becoming a multi-millionaire for shrimpin’. I dig that on a number of levels.

Now, I’m pretty sure I’ve gone on a Tom Hanks rant in some past review, so I’m not gonna get all “We are not worthy!” on the guy, but let’s just say he earned all the acclaim he received. Forrest is one magical, fascinating guy that you really want to spend time with and really care about right off the bat. A wonderful character on paper turned into someone phenomenal in practice thanks to Tommy boy. 

The only issue I have with this movie – aside from robbing Shawshank – is its ambiguous message and the whole thing serving as a kind of metaphor for the Baby Boomer generation. I remember talking about this movie a good while back with my stepdad and I brought up what a great moral it had, and without skipping a beat he replied quite politely, “Aiden, what is the message of Forrest Gump?” And so I quickly realized I was talking out of my ass and thus began stuttering a lot about how Jenny was a cokehead. So, yeah, my stepdad was dead on with that one and I’m still not really sure what the message is here. I bet there’s one there alright, but I’m leaving the discussion board wide open this time.

But other than that silliness, Forrest Gump is the whole package. That ending chokes me up every time, the soundtrack is one of the best out there, I still crack up when Forrest apologizes for breaking up the Black Panther party (among tons of other scenes) and the acting is just out of sight on behalf of the whole freakin’ cast. Nice to look back on the good old days when Robert Zemeckis made movies with human beings. Guy was on a roll there for a while.

And bonus points for Haley Joel Osment as Forrest, Jr. What the hell is that kid up to?

11 Comments leave one →
  1. February 11, 2010 7:30 am

    for me Gary Sinise will always be the guy who wouldnt give Mel Gibson back his son

  2. nothatwasacompliment permalink
    February 11, 2010 10:18 am

    even though i have to admit that this movie has a certain charm and some very memorable scenes, it would probably only get about a 7 from me. aside from the moral ambiguity, i just have trouble with the gimmicky nature of inserting Hanks into archival footage (something Zemeckis would do to even more annoying effect in Contact), as well as some of the other little gags they throw in (like when he wipes his face on the towel and it looks like a smiley face).

    also, Robin Wright will always be Buttercup to me. Jen-nay is too selfish for me to want to remember her as that character.

    • February 11, 2010 1:00 pm

      The archival stuff was pretty cool back in ’94, but yeah, it looks a bit hokey now. Totally forgot that she was Buttercup, need to give that one another watch one of these days.

  3. February 11, 2010 11:50 am

    Excellent review. I also tend to get sucked in if I ever come across it on TV. The movie has had some sort of backlash but ultimately, it was a superb movie with some of the most memorable moments in 90’s movie-making, a great soundtrack, unforgettable characters. 9/10

  4. Ryan permalink
    February 11, 2010 2:22 pm

    This movie is awesome, an instant classic and a true drama. It’s funny, serious, sad, happy… it has everything. Good review

    The best thing about visiting the President is the food! Now, since it was all free, and I wasn’t hungry but thirsty, I must’ve drank me fifteen Dr. Peppers….

  5. Branden permalink
    February 11, 2010 2:45 pm

    When I saw this movie at theaters in ’94, I loved it. I did not see Pulp Fiction, Quiz Show, Shawshank at that time. When I saw those movie, Gump dropped off the best of that year.

    Come on. The movie is ridiculous and Eric Roth tried to do the same thing with “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” He turned a comedy of errors into a long drawn out piece of drivel.

    I like Gump. I would give it a 7 now.

  6. February 11, 2010 4:27 pm

    I hate this movie (surprise) – if I change the channel and it happens to be on chances are that I will be crying within a few minutes and that makes it even worse. I feel like an emotions whore because the film is so damn boneheaded and outright objectionable with it’s message of disengage or die (literally getting shot or AIDS) and the lie of good ole’ Southern manners being the saviour of the world.

    My review if you fancy some harrumphing about the Vietnam protest scene.

    • February 11, 2010 4:37 pm

      Wow, that is some HATE! Will read your review right away.

  7. March 14, 2010 2:40 pm

    Love this film, and outside of everything you listed I love it most for its message. I’ve never read the film as having anything to do with stupidity, or as an assault upon the idea of free culture, rather it is the simple message that if you want to achieve something you can, no matter what might be holding you back.

  8. December 21, 2013 3:48 pm

    I believe everyone has a right to their opinion about films or other topics. However from a lot of the comments I have read about this film, I do not think many got the gist of the message from the author and the film maker. This film is a great modern fable, a fable in the dictionary is defined as a brief fictitious story that teaches a moral. There are many morals defined in this film but foremost is integrity and a simple goodness.

    I have a half brother who grew up in the Southern U.S. and on one occasion we were discussing this film and he said he felt it portrayed Southerners as dimwitted. I disagreed with him and informed him that the author himself was a native Southerner. The setting is central to this story in that it lets the tale unfold tying in factual events with the fable before us.

    The film is wonderfully directed by Robert Zemeckis, the film is his opus and is acted by a great cast on all levels. From the children who were Forrest Gump and Gump Jr. by Haley Joel Osment. Say what you want but I feel Tom Hanks deserved the Oscar award. Gary Sinise is synonymous with Lt.Dan whenever you hear those words. Sally Fields is the loving dutiful mother in her challenging situation. Mykelti Williamson as Bubba gives you a real sense in the story that Gump had a genuine friend, he moves you with his character. Words don’t grasp the full performance of Robin Wright Penn as Jenny. Jennys’ tenderness and pain are palpable as exhibited by Wright.

    I feel that much of Gumps’ appeal is his downright sense of doing the right thing regardless of the people and situations around him and we see that in this film. That being the case maybe we all wish we could be just a little more like that, trying to maintain innate goodness and not the trade-offs we often make as we go down lifes highways.

    The movie has it all too,drama,comedy and it challenges societal norms as well. Then there are the almost endless quotes from the movie that have slipped into everyday speech. They are too numerous to say at this point.One of the toppers for me in the movie is when Forrest is in a quandary about life and wondering as Lt.Dan said we all have a destiny and his Mom says it is where we are all just floating around like a feather in the wind. Forrest’s character terms it very well with this quote,”I think it is a little bit of both.” From my experiences in life it does appear to be that way. So if you have not seen the movie,see it soon you are in for a real treat. If you did not like it, give it a try again and hopefully you will see it for the great story it is!

    More about the movie and Tom Hanks you can also find it here

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