I can still remember to this day, in vivid detail, the first time I saw Forrest Gump. I was 6 years old, and I remember playing Street Fighter in my garage when my mom came in to announce to me and my sister that we were going to the movies. Excitement coursed through my veins. I'm sure I had been to the movies before, but this remains to this day, my first cinematic memory. So, my mother announced we were to go to the movies, and what were we to see? Forrest Gump of course. A more angry 6 year old you couldn't find. I was dead set on seeing Baby's Day Out(I know, I know, I was 6). But no matter how much I kicked, no matter how much I screamed, we were going to see Forrest Gump.
So, we walked to the theatre(it was literally around the corner) and all the while I'm just pissed off at the world. I wanted to see Baby's Day Out, not Forrest Gump. I didn't even know what the hell this movie was about. What the hell is a Forrest Gump? This is going to have to suck. So, I get my seat, I have my popcorn and my soda and that calmed me a bit, but I'm still angry. I was dead set on making sure I had a horrible time. The truth is though, mother really does know best. I was captivated. From the moment I first saw that wonderful CG feather floating in the wind on that gigantic silver screen, all memory of Baby's Day Out was eradicated from my mind. This is what I came to see. Honestly, I believe this is the movie that got me so interested in film. Truly, a life changing experience.
Forrest Gump, directed by Robert Zemeckis and based off the novel by Winston Groom of the same name, is the story of a man's life and the influence he has on the world around him. Forrest Gump(played by Tom Hanks) is a little slow. He's an outsider, made fun of by most the other kids at school. He's forced to wear leg braces, due to a crooked spine, and this helps him none in making friends. But this is a story about a boy overcoming the odds and going on to become something great. The story is more like a history lesson than just a simple movie. Forrest lives through(and influences)the Vietnam War, Elvis Presley, two presidents and even the national Ping Pong team. Due to his IQ of 75 though, he cant fully comprehend the situations that he is in. Example, Forrest Gump is in attendace at the University of Alabama when it was desegregated. Surrounded by people screaming racial slurs and armed guards, Forrest is curious as to what is going on. Still oblivious, when a young black student drops her book, Forrest rushes through the crowd to retrieve it and return it to her. This is the beauty of the character. Stupid as he may be, he does know the difference between right and wrong, good and bad. This I feel, remains to this day, Tom Hanks greatest performance and he truly deserved his 1994 Academy Award for Best Actor. The skill with which he executes this role is unnerving. He made this movie what it is, a masterpiece. The way he talks, the way he walks, the way he carries himself just captivates you and sucks you in. He commands every scene he is in and leaves you wanting more and more.
Sally Field plays Forrest' mother, Mrs. Gump, though she tells a young Forrest that his father is "on vacation". When Forrest asks her what on vacation means, she replies "It's when you go somewhere, and you don't ever come back". Sally Field is moving in this role. She plays a mother so convincingly, that you forget that you're watching a movie. Her love for her son is expressed beautifully, and the encouragement and advice she gives to him is universally understood. "Don't let anyone ever tell you you're different Forrest. You're the same as everybody else." Sally Field takes over her role with a veterans skill and gives us something touching and entertaining at the same time.
Robin Wright Penn plays Jenny Curran, Forrest's "girl" and the first person(and only person) to befriend him on the first day of school. Forrest describes their relationship as "two peas in a pod". Jenny comes from a very poor and abusive backround and spends most of her time on the Gump's vast property. Forrest doesn't understand exactly why she's always over there, but he doesn't mind. He has a friend and that's all that matters. Penn delivers a wonderful performance as her character. Her chaotic story is one that has been told many a time, yet she takes it and turns it into something original and fresh.
Gary Sinise plays Lt. Dan Taylor, Gump's commanding officer when he arrives to the Vietnam War. Gary Sinise plays the rough and tough character with as much skill as Hanks plays Gump. Lt. Dan, as Forrest calls him, comes from a long line of war veterans, all who have died in battle and sees this as his destiny. Like everyone Forrest interacts with, his life is changed by Gump. He cant fully appreciate what a great person Gump is, and sees him as most people usually do: an idiot. He eventually learns what it means to have a friend and what it means to be "at peace with God". Sinise is incredible in this film. He's believable as not only a Lieutenant, but as a war veteran, a drunk, a shrimping boat first mate and lastly, a friend. His and Hanks chemistry is perfect and the two share the screen(not for the last time) wonderfully.
Mykelti Williamson plays Private Benjamin Buford "Bubba" Blue. Though Jenny remains Forrest's first friend and person with which he is closest with, Forrest calls Bubba his "best good friend". Williamson is amazing as the Alabama bayou raised boy who hails from a shrimping family. His dream when he gets out of the army is to run his own shrimping boat. His love for shrimp brings us one of the most memorable monologues in movie history. His and Hanks roles inspired a restaurant chain, the first of which lies in Monterey Ca, about 40 minutes from my hometown. Bubba Gump Shrimp Company is a great place to eat if ever in the Monterey Bay area, awesome seafood. Williamson is touching in this role. He really draws you in. His and Hanks characters are kindred spirits. Seen as outsiders, Gump for his low IQ and Bubba for his "big gums", the two are instantly attracted to each other, and both are better off for knowing each other.
The soundtrack, like everything else in this movie, is amazing. Like the movie itself, the soundtrack is a history lesson in music. With songs from well known folk artists like Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, to classic rock hits from Lynard Skynard and Jackson Browne, it adds an extra kick to the movie that makes it that much more fun. Every song captures the scene over which its played. You'll find yourself singing along with most of the songs. This movie is like a history lesson and concert all rolled up into one.
Robert Zemeckis(Cast Away, Back To The Future Series) remains to this day one of my favorite directors. He knew what he was doing when he made this movie and thoroughly deserved his 1994 Academy Award for Best Directing. His direction of the actors and his adaptation of the novel is excellent. Without him, I don't think this movie would be what it is today, which is a masterpiece.
Forrest Gump is entertainment at it's best. It's what every movie strives to be. It has everything, love, loss, comedy and even a Vietnam movie on top of all that. It deserved every one of it's 6 Academy Awards. This is a timeless classic that will forever remain a staple in cinematic history. I'm forever grateful to all who made this film possible. This movie will live on forever and all I can say is thanks mom for making me go see this, and not Baby's Day Out.