FORREST GUMP, 1994
Starring: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Sally Field, Mykelti Williamson, Gary Sinise
Simple minded Forrest Gump finds himself in the middle of nearly every major event in U.S. History during the 60's and 70's, making friends and changing lives, all while on the never-ending quest to be re-united with his "soul mate" and childhood friend Jenny.
"Life is like a box of chocolates... you never know what you're going to get." Well, with this 1994 Best Picture winner, you get a brilliantly told story with fantastic acting and a good feeling inside at the end.
I'm honestly surprised and shocked that I'm the first one to do a review of Forrest Gump on this website, especially considering that it's not just an Oscar winner, but one of the most popular films of all time! If you haven't seen this movie yet, then you need to do yourself a favor and go to the nearest video rental house (oh who am I kidding? Nobody goes to Blockbuster anymore, just put it in your Netflix queue), and rent it ASAP!
In the beginning, Forrest Gump is a simple minded child with WELL below average intelligence and an inability to walk without the use of specially made leg braces. Because of this, he gets picked on (and beaten on) by everyone in the world except for his mamma and his best friend (who doubles as the girl of his dreams), Jenny. At the peak of adolescence, there's an iconic scene where Forrest must escape a group of bullies and is inspired by Jenny to "Run, Forrest, run!" He begins to move his damaged legs faster and faster until his special braces literally shatter and fall away, representing bursting out of the mold that's been cast upon him by everyone in a position of authority.
And thus begins Gump's forward stride into history. He'll go on to play football for the All-American team, fight in Vietnam and win a medal of honor, become a world champion at ping-pong earning himself the right to have his likeness on a wheaties box, become CEO of a huge corporation, and run across the country several times (like... LITERALLY run!).
But before you start to complain "Oh great, way to ruin the movie for me!" trust me, I haven't. The point of "Forrest Gump" is not the things the title character accomplishes with his life, but how he gets there and why. The important part is the journey he takes... the extreme measures he goes to in search of Jenny. If this movie doesn't pull on some kind of emotional heartstrings (whether it's a lol moment or a scene that induces tears), then you might want to visit your local psychologist as you just might be on your way to being the next Dexter Morgan.
So since I've already mentioned what a great story it is (and the dialogue also is superb, which is why the film won both the best picture and best adapted screenplay), let's take a look at the other filmmaking points to get a sense of what a superb film this really is.
The acting in this movie is fantastic. Tom Hanks won the Oscar for best actor for his portrayal of the mentally handicapped Forrest Gump, and it was a win most deserved! He pulls off the role flawlessly and in such a way that makes you see that just because someone is deemed "mentally handicapped" does NOT mean they are stupid! He is slow on a social level, but is nowhere near the level of Raymond Babbitt or Sam Dawson. Those characters you like because you feel sorry for them. With Forrest Gump, you like him because Tom Hanks has made him relate-able despite his difference from the norm.
And Tom Hanks wasn't the only superb actor in the film. As an ensemble, the entire cast is superb in they way they interact with Gump and make you believe they'd actually behave in those ways rather than the average person who would see Gump as a "retard" and simply look away awkwardly. The bonds in this film feel very real and powerful. This is of course in part to the writing, but I think that with lesser actors those connections would feel forced.
This movie also won an Oscar for Visual Effects, another well deserved award. The scenes that mix the new footage of Tom Hanks with the archived footage of things like the multiple U.S. Presidents he met through the years is flawless, and in most cases would have you believing that's the way the footage was meant to look all along.
Visually and technically, the cinematography is stunning. Sadly, Don Burgess did NOT win the Oscar for his stunning camera work (that prize went to John Toll for "Legends of the Fall"), but that does not at all diminish the work done on "Forrest Gump". It transitions beautifully between being stunning and graceful in romantic scenes of Gump's life, and gritty and in-your-face for the war moments.
Part of those beautiful transitions must be accredited to the editing team of the film (who ALSO won an Academy Award for their efforts).
Simply put, all aspects of this film should be praised. It's a movie everyone should see, and is quite literally fun for the whole family! Some may poke fun at hokey moments ("Run, Forrest, run!"), but I challenge you to watch this movie with a critical eye and a movie-goer's heart and NOT agree that this is one of the best movies to come out of recent Hollywood!
I give "Forrest Gump" a 5 our of 5.
CLICK the LINKS and EXPLORE