A Review of Forrest Gump

In this week's article, we were asked to do a movie review of our all-time favorite movie. For me, my all-time favorite movie is Forrest Gump.

For those of you who have never seen the movie, Forrest Gump stars Tom Hanks (playing Forrest Gump). This movie does not seem to fit into one specific genre as it has many comedic, dramatic, and romantic characteristics and scenes. A large majority of the story is told in the form of a flashback depicting Forrest's life from the time he was about 8 or 9 years old till the present where he is a middle aged man (around 40 years old).

Tom Hanks as an actor.

First of all, I praise Tom Hanks as an actor, which is why I was first interested in watching this movie. I believe Tom Hanks has the ability to play a variety of roles and has clearly done so with much success. His performance in Forrest Gump is among my favorite Tom Hanks films and might only be surpassed by Castaway; however, I prefer Forrest Gump for its historical reflections and the message it sends to audiences.

The plot.

The movie itself starts out with Forrest (in the present) sitting on a park bench waiting for a bus in Savannah, Georgia. The year is sometime in the early 1980s. The entire story is told from this bench to a number of different people as they come and go for the bus. Forrest begins his story at his childhood home in Greenbow, Alabama during the 1950s. In his story, he describes his whole life; how he grew up with a diminished intellect (in a side story, he took an IQ test and received a 75) and how he wore a leg brace that severely restricted his ability to walk to him graduating college and serving in the Vietnam war, as well as his role in other historical events during his lifetime.

Despite his IQ, he was able to enter public school because his mother performed a sexual favor for the principal. In school, he met the love of his life, Jenny Curran (the adult Jenny was played by Robin Wright). The two bonded from their kind spirits and difficult childhoods (Jenny lived with an abusive father).

While in elementary school, Forrest was bullied by a group of older kids and while running away from them one day, the leg brace he wore broke off and he found a hidden ability he never knew he had; he could run very fast!

The story skips ahead to high school and in a similar scene, Forrest is again being bullied and manages to run away; but, in this case, he runs through a football practice where he is noticed by legendary University of Alabama football coach, Paul "Bear" Bryant, who offers Forrest a football scholarship. He accepts the offer and goes on to play running back at the university.

Upon graduating, Forrest enlists in the military where he meets his best friend, "Bubba". Bubba's family is somewhat well-known in the shrimp business and his goal once he retires from the army is to start his own shrimp boat company, an endeavor Forrest agrees to go in with him on. The two are eventually deployed to Vietnam where Bubba is unfortunately killed in action. Forrest is also injured in the onslaught but manages to rescue several people before-hand, a feat that eventually earns him the Medal of Honor from President Lyndon B. Johnson.

While in the army hospital, Forrest becomes very adept at ping-pong and, in another side story, he mentions how he was able to travel around the world with the US national ping-pong team.

Upon returning to the States and receiving his medal, he runs into Jenny at the White House. The two do not talk long, however, as Jenny is going on an excursion with some hippies. Forrest also runs into his lieutenant (Lieutenant Dan) from the war, whom Forrest saved. Lieutenant Dan is upset that Forrest save him because he wanted to die (though it was his destiny) but the two end up moving in together.

A couple years later, upon visiting the White House while Nixon was in office, Forrest inadvertently alerts guards about some guys breaking into an unlit office, starting what became known as, "The Watergate Scandal".

Forrest is ultimately discharged from the army and receives a check of $25,000 from ping-pong endorsements. He decides to return to Alabama (but not his home) and fulfill Bubba's dream of becoming a shrimp boat captain. Lieutenant Dan becomes his ship mate and after a hurricane wipes out a large fleet of shrimp boats, Forrest's boat is the only boat left, so they begin to make a lot of money. They invest their money in Apple, securing their financial stability for life.

Not so soon after their success, Forrest receives news that his mother is terminally ill so he returns home. His mother dies shortly after his return. Forrest decides to stay home. He begins to think a lot of Jenny, who is off living a quite promiscuous life of sex and drugs. She returns to his house, however, upon which Forrest asks her to marry him. She denies his request but they have sex that night. Jenny leaves the next morning and, as a result, Forrest decides to go for a run which turned into a coast to coast...to coast....to coast journey lasting 3 and a half years.

The journey brought him national attention and a large following of people; however, one day he decides to stop running and says he is returning home.

This is when the story picks up again in present-day Savannah, Georgia at the bus stop. Forrest is there because he received a letter from Jenny requesting him. He goes to her apartment and meets Jenny's kid, Forrest. It takes Forrest to realize that the kid is his but once he realizes it, he is overcome with emotion. The three of them return to Greenbow where they are married; however, Jenny's illness (though it was never mentioned exactly what her illness is, it is implied that it is HIV) eventually takes her life.

Forrest becomes a devoted father to Forrest Jr. and the end scene is identical to the opening scene of Forrest's childhood when he is sitting at the end of his driveway waiting for the school bus.

The message.

One of the overwhelming messages in Forrest Gump is the message that despite one's disabilities, anyone can achieve their dreams and aspirations in life. Do not let your hindrances affect your end goals. Other messages include the importance of friendship and not giving up on people. Even though Forrest achieved some of his goals on his own, his friends had a huge role in realizing those goals. Another message would be to do what you love, no matter what people say or think as well as to expect the unexpected. Forrest's mother has a famous line in the movie that pretty much sums up that life is a roller coaster and you never know what will happen next.

Famous Quotes

I'm going to leave you with some famous phrases that are spoken throughout the movie that I believe have some great messages. I'm not going to comment on these phrases because I would like to leave it to you, the reader, to decipher each quote. Some of these phrases include:

“Stupid is as stupid does.” - Forrest Gump

"Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” - Forrest's Mother

The all too famous, “Run, Forrest! Run!” - Jenny Curran

“You have to do the best with what God gave you.” - Forrest's Mother

“My Mama always said you’ve got to put the past behind you before you can move on.” – Forrest

“Mama always said, dying was a part of life. I sure wish it wasn’t.” – Forrest

“What’s normal anyways?” - Forrest

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