Forrest Gump (1994)
The World According to Gump
You have to do the best with what God gave you - Mrs. Gump
I've watched "Forrest Gump" more times than I care to remember, I know the story of by heart, I know the dialogue and of course those quotes which became part of every day speak, I even know when the next gag is coming long before it arrives. But none of that matters as "Forrest Gump" is a movie which manages to remain entertaining even when you know it so well. The jokes bring a smile to your face before they ever arrive and then again once they are delivered, the quotes finding themselves reverberating from your lips whilst also making you think what they actually mean and no matter how lousy your day has been a good dose of simple humour wrapped up in a charming tale and a brilliant soundtrack will put a smile back on your face.
As Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks - Philadelphia) sits at a bus stop waiting for his bus to arrive he starts regaling those around him with the story of his life. Going back to his childhood where he wore leg braces, influenced Elvis and met the love of his life Jenny (Robin Wright - Toys), Forrest tells anyone who will listen about his adventures as an American Football star, his time at college, serving in the Vietnam war, going for a run across America as well as setting up the Bubba Gump shrimping business. But every tale always ends up back to Jenny, the woman he has loved since a child and who he is on his way to see.
Logically the storyline of "Forrest Gump" is complete and utter nonsense as Forrest recounts all these amazing things to everyone but it is magical nonsense. Right from the first nostalgic journey back to his childhood where his mother will do anything to provide for her son and we watch Forrest teaching Elvis Presley his crazy walk it captures your attention and brings a big smile to your face. And so it goes on as over the course of the next 2 hours we are taken on a magical journey through the life of Forrest and all the wonderful adventures and people he meets.
What is so good is that prominent real events from the various periods in Forrest's life are incorporated into the story. So along the way Forrest meets famous people such as various Presidents and in his own simplistic matter of fact way mentions what happened to them such as being shot or killed. He goes through the racial tensions and then the Vietnam War and much more such as being the man who inspired the smiley face logo as well as a famous phrase. It makes it so easy to relate to and place within history but also bringing a smile to our faces especially through some clever CGI which sees Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump placed in archive footage and meeting various presidents as well as other various people.
Whilst all of this is going on and providing plenty of humour thanks to the outrageous nature of all these adventures everything comes back to Jenny the girl who as a child became Forrest's best friend and has been the love of his life ever since. It would be wrong to say that "Forrest Gump" is a great romantic movie but the stream of romance as Forrest continually looks out for Jenny adds a charm to it. And as well as adding charm it also adds a bitter sweet moment in the final 20 minutes when Forrest stops telling about his life and the movie focuses on the now.
What is very special about "Forrest Gump" is the stunning performance from Tom Hanks because not being nasty he is playing a character that is slower than everyone else and sees everything in a very simplistic manner. But rather than laughing at Forrest for his simplistic view point we warm to him, charmed by his adult innocence and the way he says words often in a matter of fact way. As such Hanks really does put in a brilliant performance to never once let his character become the butt of the joke. It's also a brilliant performance as other than those early reminisces where Michael Conner Humphreys plays Forrest pretty much every scene features him and as such Hanks does a great job of leading the story brilliantly.
Whilst Tom Hanks is the star of "Forrest Gump" and won one of the 6 Oscars the movie received the supporting cast do their job just as brilliantly. Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson and Sally Field all deliver wonderful characters and in the case of Sinise as Lt. Dan does a marvellous job of playing an amputee thanks to some clever CGI trickery.
What this all boils down to is that "Forrest Gump" is a very good movie in fact "Forrest Gump" is a great movie. It maybe a little schmaltzy with its sweet and preposterous tale of the life of Forrest Gump but it is very entertaining. In fact it is one of those rare movies that even when you know it back to front it still manages to bring a smile to your face not only by the funny scenes but in the knowledge that they are coming and not many movies can achieve that. Plus Tom Hanks is on fine form creating a character who does view life in a simplistic way but rather than creating a character who we laugh at for being simplistic we are instead charmed by.
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