Oscars Challenge #37: Forrest Gump (1994) Movie Review
"My mama always said, 'Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.'" - Forrest Gump
That quote is probably the most memorable to those who have watched the film. I am not going to lie. Despite the corny, cheesy, and sometimes pointless plot, I find this film very refreshing. I don't know about you, but the story of Forrest Gump is one I admire the most fictionally. It's not because of how patient or good he is but because he met and inspired several monumental people.
Seriously, any movie with Tom Hanks is either very good or terrible. I am glad that this one turned out to be very good.
The movie starts with an adult, Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks), waiting for a bus while telling strangers about his life. As a young boy, he had an IQ of 75 and was forced to wear leg braces and a device to correct his spine. He lives with his mom in Greenbow, Alabama. She runs a boarding house and encourages young Forrest to live beyond his disabilities. Among their temporary tenants is Elvis Presley. One afternoon when he played guitar to Forrest, he got amazed by his weird dance moves and started incorporating them into his performances.
During Forrest's first day of school, he met Jenny, who soon became his best friend. He also learns that Jenny had an abusive father.
He was constantly bullied because of his leg braces and low IQ. One day while being chased by a group of bullies, Jenny ordered Forrest to run. As he was running, his leg braces broke off and somehow outran them. During high school, he joined the football team and was named to the All-American Team, thanks to his talent for being a fast runner. He meets President John F. Kennedy at the White House because of his accolades.
After he graduated from college, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. During training, he met Bubba and encouraged Forrest to work with him on their shrimping business after they were done with their service. They are sent to Vietnam and serve under Lieutenant Dan (Gary Sinise). After several months, in one of their missions, their platoon is ambushed, and Bubba is killed in action. Forrest saves several soldiers, and in the process, Lieutenant Dan's legs get amputated. Even after he dedicates his life, Lieutenant Dan thinks that dying is much better than his ancestors. Forrest recalls all these moments and tells them via letter to Jenny.
President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded Forrest a Medal of Honor for his contributions during the war. During the anti-war protest, he was briefly reunited with Jenny, who has now become a drug-addicted hippie. Forrest became a sports celebrity when he soon realized he had talent in ping-pong. In his ping-pong success, he met Richard Nixon and stayed in the Watergate complex, exposing the scandal. He also met the legendary John Lennon and inspired him with the song "Imagine." During New Year's eve in 1972, he spent time with Lieutenant Dan, who became an alcoholic.
After getting discharged from the army, he remembers his promise to Bubba and buys a shrimping boat. He invited Lieutenant Dan to join him. Initially, they both were unsuccessful in their catch, but after a hurricane destroyed most of the fishing boats, they were able to haul large numbers of shrimps without any competition. The two established the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and Lieutenant Dan thanked Forrest for saving his life. The two became millionaires, and Forrest gave half of his earnings to Bubba's family. He returned home to care for his mother, who was dying of cancer.
After a few years, Jenny, recovering from her addiction, visited Forrest. The two had an intimate time together before leaving him once again. He then decided to run across the country for no particular reason. He once again became famous, and after three years, he stopped running and decided to go home.
At the bus stop, Forrest mentions that Jenny sent him a letter asking them to meet. Jenny meets with him and tells him about their son, Forrest Jr. She also informs him that she is sick with an unknown virus and no one can cure her. The two of them returned to Greenbow, Alabama, and married. She died a year after. Forrest visits her grave and tells her stories about their son.
This film is not only inspirational but also very captivating. Forrest Gump may not have been able to be ordinary, but with his honesty, he could do extraordinary things. I think that's what makes this movie very good. No matter what, I cannot hate the character of Forrest. To me, he is very likable.
The story itself is told based on Forrest's perspective, in my opinion. How we perceive it through honesty may look stupid at first, but then we realize it is more than that. Maybe, the answer to most of our life's problems is to be honest. Whenever life gets very hard or painful, just like Forrest, we run. Not to escape from our problems but to experience different things, meet different people, or inspire others. Once we get to the point where we are satisfied, we tell ourselves that we are ready to face life's problems again.
I am a sucker when it comes to movies with quotable lines. And this film has so many of those. Whenever Forrest or any other character says something good to another person, they choose the best lines to execute.
It's quite an outstanding feat that this film inspired a particular business and became successful. The restaurant chain Bubba Gump Shrimp was inspired by this movie. Maybe we need something like this to inspire us in our day-to-day activities.
I think there is no other actor that perfectly portrays the role of Forrest than Tom Hanks. No offense to other great actors, but he just did a fantastic job. He played it with a mix of humor and incredible acting. I also like Gary Sinise's portrayal of Lieutenant Dan.
One technical thing to note here is the use of CGI. It may not compare with today's standards, but it adds another layer to the film. The use of it tells us that movies will be elevated, especially on the technology used.
However, this movie is not perfect. It has flaws, especially in the way the film was paced. But I think that's what makes this film incredible as well. It didn't overdo and overachieve itself. It's simply lovely the way it is.
I will give this film an honest 4 out of 5 stars.