Forrest Gump (1994)

90s moviesGrowing up, everyone knew someone who was regarded as a bit of a simpleton. His heart was in the right place, but he lacked the inherent brains to intelligently verbalize his feelings or relate with others. Whether you were a bully, a friend, or apathetic toward this individual, his moronic charm reached to your very core. For me, it was a kid named James Schwarzenbach who listened to the Toy Story soundtrack on his walkman and thought the word “pistachio” was profane, but that’s beside the point.

Forrest Gump is the story of a stupid man’s haphazard stumbling through three decades of tempestuous Americana. Rooted deeply in the pop culture that defined the era’s collective consciousness, the whimsical and sometimes contrived nature of Forrest Gump’s humble tale is aided greatly by Tom Hanks’ Oscar-caliber performance as the dim-witted titular character. Robert Zemeckis’ use of special effects and poignant narration draws up waves of unforgettable iconography and a taste of bittersweet nostalgia for folks who lived through this golden age.

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Not completely mentally handicapped, Forrest Gump is a heartfelt character who is the perfect window to experiencing America as it stood between the 1950s and the 1980s. Gump’s innocence is palpable as he moves through each phase of his life, encountering and touching all of the characters he meets along the way.

The audience is made to feel pity for Gump as his puppy-like advances are spurned again and again by the heroin-addled, abused HIV positive sweetheart Jenny. After being repeatedly shot down by Jenny and made into a lovable doormat despite his undying devotion, Gump still decides to name his shrimping boat  after her.

Experiencing loss, regret, military glory, athletic achievement and endless examples an idiot’s embarrassment, Gump lives enough experiences for 100 lifetimes and has great influence on the events that transpire during his journey. From telling JFK that he needs to pee after drinking too many free sodas to aiding in the rescue of his fellow soldiers during the Vietnam war, Gump is there to see it all.

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Although the film has a bit of a self-indulgent runtime and suffers a tiny bit from its whimsical goofiness, Forrest Gump is still a memorable piece of Americana and deserved its best picture award at the Oscars. Tom Hanks pulled off a gem of a performance and I still watch the film any time I catch it on cable, but I usually only stick around for my favorite parts. At any rate, it’s worth a watch and will delight audiences of any age. There’s so much to love about this movie.

  • 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!

    • You seem to have thought a lot about this and you make some good points. Thanks for the input!