Forrest Gump – 4 Stars (Excellent)
“Forrest Gump” begins with a feather being lifted into the air by a breeze that carries it to the feet of Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks), who is sitting at a bus stop in Savannah (GA). Gump picks it up and puts it in a “Curious George” children’s book. He then begins to tell his life story to the first of several people waiting with him for the next bus.
Some of the people are great listeners and some are not, but make no mistake about it, Gump is a master storyteller. He is simple, unassuming, honest, not brilliant, and full of integrity. For such a humble person, his story is almost unbelievable.
Forrest wears leg braces to walk as a child, eludes bullies who taunt him, befriends Jenny (Robin Wright Penn), whom he will haunt his entire life, meets Elvis Presley, meets three presidents : John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, and receives the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in Vietnam, where he saves Lt. Dan (Gary Sinise) and loses his friend, Private “Bubba” (Mykelti Williamson).
At an anti-war rally in Washington, DC, he briefly meets Jenny, whose life is a mess after seeking fame and following a hippie lifestyle. Forrest begins a table tennis craze and becomes a nationally known ping-pong genius, using the money he earns to start a successful shrimp boat business with Lt. Dan, who invests his money in Apple stock. and both get rich in the process.
Then she inspires people to jog, helps an entrepreneur create smiley face stickers, and deals with the loss of her mother (Sally Field), who tells her she must find her own destiny. Despite everything, Jenny and love elude him. Forrest lived in turbulent times.
If you’re dizzy just imagining all of this, I was too. After seeing Forrest Gump for the first time, I appreciated the merit of the movie, but was overwhelmed by how one person could achieve so much and be surrounded by so many famous people. After watching Forrest Gump 3 more times, I got over it and now I just sing his praises.
Finally, Jenny sees Forrest running on the television and writes him a letter to go see it. When he does, he finds out that Jenny has a child and is very sick. She asks Forrest to marry her, and soon after, she dies. She learns that he is the father of her child and agrees to raise him. As young Forrest gets on the bus for the first day of school, his white feather falls out of the Curious George book he is carrying, gets caught in the breeze, and rises up into the sky.
If you’re wondering about the feather, it was real, but its performance in the movie was computer-based. The feather is important because it raises the question of whether we are all floating by accident, like on the breeze, or whether each of us really has a destiny. Forrest supposes that maybe it’s both.
Everything that happens to Forrest Gump is worth watching, and much of what happens teaches us important lessons in life. This is a love story, a relationship story, and the story of a person in a very big world that is almost impossible to understand at times. All of the good and much of the bad is covered in the movie.
To appreciate where Forrest Gump came from, learn from these memorable lines from the movie:
1) Lt. Daniel Taylor: “Have you found Jesus yet, Gump?” Forrest Gump: “I didn’t know you were supposed to be looking for him, sir.”
2) Forrest Gump: (describing Vietnam) “We’d always take long walks and always look for a guy named Charlie.”
3) Jenny Curran: “Have you ever been with a girl, Forrest?” Forrest Gump: (nervous) “I sit next to them in my Home Economics class…”
4) Jenny Curran: “His name is Forrest.” Forrest Gump: “Like me.” Jenny Curran: “I named him after his dad.” Forrest Gump: “Does he also have a dad named Forrest?” Jenny Curran: “You’re his dad, Forrest.”
5) Jenny Curran: “Have you ever dreamed, Forrest, who you’re going to be?” Forrest Gump: “Who am I going to be?” Jenny Curran: “Yeah.” Forrest Gump: “I-Isn’t it going to be me?”
6) Forrest Gump: “I’m not a smart man… but I know what love is.”
7) Forrest Gump: “Mom always said that life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” This line was voted 40th in the top 100 movie quotes by the American Film Institute. In 2007, the AFI ranked Forrest Gump as the 76th greatest movie of all time.
8) Forrest Gump: “Stupid is the stupid thing he does.”
Tom Hanks modeled his accent after young Forrest (Michael Conner Humphreys, who actually spoke that way).
Forrest Gump was an immensely successful film, costing $55 million to produce and grossing $677+ million worldwide. After its release in 1994, it became Paramount’s fastest-rising film to reach the $100 million, $150 million, and $200 million marks, surpassing $250 million in 66 days.
Even more important, Forrest Gump won 6 Oscars at the Academy Awards: for Best Picture, Tom Hanks for Best Actor, Robert Zemeckis for Best Director, Eric Roth for Best Screenplay based on the novel by Winston Groom, Arthur Schmidt for Best Film Editing and Ken Ralston, George Murphy, Stephen Rosenbaum and Allen Hall for Best Visual Effects.
Forrest Gump also earned 7 other Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Gary Sinise), Best Original Musical Score (Alan Silvestri), Best Set Decoration, Best Cinematography (Don Burgess), Best Makeup, Best Sound, and Best Effects Editing. Sound.
Among his other 32 awards and 38 nominations are 7 Golden Globe nominations and awards for Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture.
As with almost any other award-winning production, many famous professionals passed up the opportunity to be a part of the success. Terry Gilliam and Barry Sonnenfeld were offered the chance to direct the film. Bill Murray was considered for the role of Forrest, Chevy Chase turned down the role of Forrest, and three others turned down the role of Bubba: David Alan Grier, Dave Chappelle, and Ice Cube.
Tom Hanks said that he would make the film only if all the events that took place were historically accurate. For example, when Gump calls to report the Watergate break-in, the security guard on duty answers the phone saying, “Security, Frank Willis.” Willis was the guard on duty that night who discovered the break-in that led to Richard Nixon’s resignation from the presidency.
Tom Hanks is an amazing and bankable actor. While Forrest Gump grossed $677 million and is by far his biggest box office success, he has been involved in 19 other movies that grossed more than $100 million and ranks third among all actors appearing in movies with $3.3 billion grossed. .
Forrest Gump was directed by Robert Zemeckis from a screenplay by Eric Roth based on the novel by Winston Groom. I really liked Forrest Gump and I think you will too. If you have seen it before, please revisit it and relive the magical moments of hope, courage, patience, love, understanding and compassion, all of which give special meaning to our lives.
Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley