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Forrest Gump

One of my guilty film pleasures is Forrest Gump. I’ve seen it countless times and any time hubby and I stumble upon it on cable, we must watch it to the end. I know it has a lot of haters and it has close to a dozen quotes that were overused, but I’m a sucker for it. I love seeing our nation’s history during one of its most complicated times as told by a simple man. While the, at the time ,revolutionary special effects inserting Tom Hanks in news footage is a bit dated now, it’s still a lot of fun to watch and there are some very strong performances that deserve appreciation.
Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) grows up mentally and physically disabled, raised by a single mother (Sally Fields) who will do anything for her son (even the principal!) and lets him know he can do anything he wants. Forrest is seen as an oddity by most of his peers but bonds with Jenny who obviously sexually abused by her father. As an adult he lives a seemingly charmed life: he’s a star athlete, a war hero, and a successful businessman, but the one thing that alludes him is the love of the troubled Jenny (Robin Wright Penn). That is, until after years apart, Jenny contacts him and introduces him to their son, Forrest Junior. In Hanks’ most touching scene of the film, Forrest worries that his son must suffer the same disability as him, but he’s assured that Junior is the smartest in his class. It’s a poignant moment because while Forrest has accomplished so much, it is clear he still wishes he could have been born a smarter man. Jenny reveals she is dying (most likely of AIDS). Forrest and Jenny finally marry and Forrest cares for her until her death.
While Hanks won an Oscar for this film, the stand out performance for me is Gary Sinise as Lt Dan. From the moment he walks on the screen, accompanied by Aretha Franklin’s singing, he steals every scene he’s in. He’s a multi-layered character who feels he was supposed to die in battle, but instead lost only his legs when he was saved by Gump. He becomes the symbol of what America did to disabled Vietnam veterans when Forrest finds him drunk and penniless in New York City. Forrest again saves him by recruiting him for his shrimp company which becomes a household name, allowing Lt Dan the proper prosthetics to live a normal life.
I’ve never been completely behind the romance element to this film. While Jenny is clearly extremely damaged by her upbringing, she never truly falls for Forrest, it’s more like she gives in. It’s like she says “Fine, you’re very nice and you love me and this is probably the best I’m going get, so fine.” Hubby and I joke that Forrest Jr isn’t her son, but Jenny’s grifter partner and Forrest is the one man she swore she would never swindle until she has no other choice.
While Forrest Gump is one of the most honored films in history, it’s also one that received a lot of undeserved crap. It has a lot of great performances and is a love letter to Americana. It also marks an example where the movie adaptation is better than the book. If you see it on TBS, give it another chance. And that’s all I have to say about that.

About amandalovesmovies

Lifelong movie lover who's ready to share her two cents with the world! Follow me on twitter @tuxedopengin

5 responses to “Forrest Gump

  1. atothewr ⋅

    I would be hard pressed to call this one a guilty pleasure.

    I could think of a thousand other movies that would fit into this category.

    Forest Gump is a classic.

    Nice post.

  2. I agree with atothewr. Gump’s an easy top 10 of all time for me. The quality of storytelling is just captivating and the emotional spectrum it infects overflows.

    I also agree with Amanda on Lt. Dan’s character. The scene from New Year’s when he’s sitting there corpselike among the confetti and Auld Lang Syne is incredibly powerful. And the moment when he’s clearly finally found peace is so rewarding.

    I love this movie.

  3. This isn’t one of my very favorites (it wouldn’t make even my top 100, probably my top 150 though, and I’d give it an A-/4 out of five stars), but I still love it. I’m thinking I just might revisit it this summer while I have time. I probably saw it for the first time when I was around 11 years old. I was immediately obsessed with it, went out and bought it ASAP, watched it on a nightly basis, even though I didn’t get everything there, probably because the story is so damn fascinating. But I could never understand why people call it a comedy. Now I’m 14, and I think I might understand it a lot more than I did before, maybe even comprehend why it’s a comedy. The one reason I sort of envy it: it beat Shawshank for Best Picture. I love Gump, but there’s no way in hell it can beat Shawshank, even if its legacy spans out as far as to inspiring a restaurant chain called Bubba Gump. Shawshank is #1 on IMDb for crying out loud, and it’s in my top 50. Great post.

  4. And I see you mentioned it’s one of the rare examples of a movie better than the book. If you ever review The Godfather, I beg you to mention that same thing. I LOVE the 1972 adaptation of The Godfather, but I’m currently reading the 1969 Mario Puzo novel, and it absolutely sucks in cimprison. 🙂 Just a little side note for yeh.

  5. I couldn’t agree more that this movie is in many ways simply a love letter to America, except it was a love letter to a more innocent America, in many ways. Yes, there are those who aren’t so innocent, but they are done in such a beautiful and sympathetic way.

    Also, if you haven’t read the book, continue to avoid it. Forrest is basically a bully and a jerk in the book. It’s more satirical, whereas the movie is full of love.

    BTW, thanks for stoppping by to comment on my blog. I’m really enjoying yours!

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