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Watch Forrest Gump (1994), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie

 

Forrest Gump (1994)

The presidencies of Kennedy and Johnson, the Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal and other historical events unfold from the perspective of an Alabama man with an IQ of 75, whose only desire is to be reunited with his childhood sweetheart.

Forrest Gump (1994) Trailer

 

Forrest Gump (1994) Reviews

I’ve never met anyone like Forrest Gump in a movie before, and for that matter I’ve never seen a movie quite like “Forrest Gump.” Any attempt to describe him will risk making the movie seem more conventional than it is, but let me try. It’s a comedy, I guess. Or maybe a drama. Or a dream.

The screenplay by Eric Roth has the complexity of modern fiction, not the formulas of modern movies. Its hero, played by Tom Hanks, is a thoroughly decent man with an IQ of 75, who manages between the 1950s and the 1980s to become involved in every major event in American history. And he survives them all with only honesty and niceness as his shields.

And yet this is not a heartwarming story about a mentally retarded man. That cubbyhole is much too small and limiting for Forrest Gump. The movie is more of a meditation on our times, as seen through the eyes of a man who lacks cynicism and takes things for exactly what they are. Watch him carefully and you will understand why some people are criticized for being “too clever by half.” Forrest is clever by just exactly enough.

Tom Hanks may be the only actor who could have played the role.

I can’t think of anyone else as Gump, after seeing how Hanks makes him into a person so dignified, so straight-ahead. The performance is a breathtaking balancing act between comedy and sadness, in a story rich in big laughs and quiet truths.

Forrest is born to an Alabama boardinghouse owner (Sally Field) who tries to correct his posture by making him wear braces, but who never criticizes his mind. When Forrest is called “stupid,” his mother tells him, “Stupid is as stupid does,” and Forrest turns out to be incapable of doing anything less than profound. Also, when the braces finally fall from his legs, it turns out he can run like the wind.

That’s how he gets a college football scholarship, in a life story that eventually becomes a running gag about his good luck. Gump the football hero becomes Gump the Medal of Honor winner in Vietnam, and then Gump the Ping-Pong champion, Gump the shrimp boat captain, Gump the millionaire stockholder (he gets shares in a new “fruit company” named Apple Computer), and Gump the man who runs across America and then retraces his steps.

It could be argued that with his IQ of 75 Forrest does not quite understand everything that happens to him. Not so. He understands everything he needs to know, and the rest, the movie suggests, is just surplus. He even understands everything that’s important about love, although Jenny, the girl he falls in love with in grade school and never falls out of love with, tells him, “Forrest, you don’t know what love is.” She is a stripper by that time.

The movie is ingenious in taking Forrest on his tour of recent American history. The director, Robert Zemeckis, is experienced with the magic that special effects can do (his credits include the “Back To The Future” movies and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”), and here he uses computerized visual legerdemain to place Gump in historic situations with actual people.

Forrest stands next to the schoolhouse door with George Wallace, he teaches Elvis how to swivel his hips, he visits the White House three times, he’s on the Dick Cavett show with John Lennon, and in a sequence that will have you rubbing your eyes with its realism, he addresses a Vietnam-era peace rally on the Mall in Washington. Special effects are also used in creating the character of Forrest’s Vietnam friend Lt. Dan (Gary Sinise), a Ron Kovic type who quite convincingly loses his legs.

Using carefully selected TV clips and dubbed voices, Zemeckis is able to create some hilarious moments, as when LBJ examines the wound in what Forrest describes as “my butt-ox.” And the biggest laugh in the movie comes after Nixon inquires where Forrest is staying in Washington, and then recommends the Watergate. (That’s not the laugh, just the setup.) As Forrest’s life becomes a guided tour of straight-arrow America, Jenny (played by Robin Wright) goes on a parallel tour of the counterculture.

She goes to California, of course, and drops out, tunes in, and turns on. She’s into psychedelics and flower power, antiwar rallies and love-ins, drugs and needles. Eventually it becomes clear that between them Forrest and Jenny have covered all of the landmarks of our recent cultural history, and the accommodation they arrive at in the end is like a dream of reconciliation for our society. What a magical movie.

  • Roger Ebert  –  Roger Ebert
  • Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

Since its theatrical release in the summer of 1994, Forrest Gump has become one of those movies seemingly everyone is familiar with. It’s a cultural touchstone with lines like “Life is a box of chocolates” appearing everywhere from tee-shirts to greeting cards. The film’s popularity was italicized by the way it rampaged through the 1995 Oscars, winning six awards (including the “big three” of Best Picture, Director, and Actor). Now, for its 20th anniversary, the decision has been made to do something Hollywood almost never does during the home video era: a big screen re-release.

How to get people into theaters to watch (or re-watch) Forrest run when it’s a lot easier to do it at home? Enter the IMAX gimmick. Calling it anything less crass would be dishonest since there’s no inherent reason why Forrest Gump should be bulked up for IMAX (or pseudo-IMAX, depending on how one views the smaller AMC version of the product). Still, commercial considerations aside, there’s something majestic about watching this tall tale unfold on a larger screen than one can find in the average family room.

The IMAX format is a nice way to entice some viewers to see the movie in a theater while maintaining the original composition.

The original review holds up today because, unlike some decades-old motion pictures, this one doesn’t seem dated. It wears its age well. Here’s what I wrote in 1994 when the movie was first released:

Ever find the grind of life getting you down? Is the day-to-day struggle threatening to drag you under? If so, there is a movie out there that can replenish your energy and refresh your outlook. Passionate and magical, Forrest Gump is a tonic for the weary of spirit. For those who feel that being set adrift in a season of action movies is like wandering into a desert, the oasis lies ahead.

Back when Tom Hanks’ movie career was relatively new, the actor made a film called Big, which told the story of a young boy forced to grow up fast as a result of an ill-advised wish made at a carnival. In some ways, Forrest Gump represents a return to the themes of that earlier movie. In this case, the main character remains a child in heart and spirit, even as his body grows to maturity. Hanks is called upon yet again to play the innocent.

Forrest Gump (Hanks), named after a civil war hero, grows up in Greenbow, Alabama, where his mother (Sally Field) runs a boarding house. Although Forrest is a little “slow” (his IQ is 75, 5 below the state’s definition of “normal”), his mental impairment doesn’t seem to bother him, his mother, or his best (and only) friend, Jenny Curran (played as an adult by Robin Wright).

In fact, the naiveté that comes through a limited understanding of the world around him gives Forrest a uniquely positive perspective on life. Across the span of the next thirty years, Forrest becomes a star football player, a war hero, a successful businessman, and a pop icon. Through it all, however, there is one defining element in his life: his love for Jenny. She is never far from his thoughts, no matter what he’s doing or where he is.

A trio of assets lifts Forrest Gump above the average “life story” (melo)drama: its optimism, freshness, and emotional honesty. Though the movie does not seek to reduce every member of the audience to tears, it has moments whose power comes from their simplicity. Equally as important is laughter, and Forrest Gump has moments of humor strewn throughout.

During the 60s and 70s, no topic more inflamed the turbulent national consciousness than that of Vietnam and those who were sent overseas to fight. Forrest, as might be expected, has a singular viewpoint on his time spent there: “We took long walks and were always looking for this guy named Charlie.” This observation emphasizes the essence of the title character’s nature.

Through the miracle of visual effects, Forrest meets his fair share of famous people – George Wallace, Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, and John Lennon. While mixing the real footage of these notables with new images featuring Hanks is not a seamless process, the result is nevertheless effective. (This is a precursor of what would become commonplace in future films as the effects work employed here became refined.)

Forrest Gump has several messages, few of which require much digging into the subtext to unearth. The most frequently recurring theme is an admonition not to give up on life. Why surrender when you don’t know what lies ahead? By contrasting Forrest’s life with the lives of those around him, and by showing how the passage of time brings solace to even the most embittered hearts, the movie underlines this point.

Tom Hanks won 1994’s Academy Award for Philadelphia, but his performance here is more nuanced. [With Forrest Gump, he would become only the second man to win back-to-back Lead Actor Oscars, joining Spencer Tracy.] The Alabama accent may seem a little awkward at first, but it doesn’t take long for the acting to dwarf the twang. Hanks fashions a human character free of guile and deceit, and barely able to comprehend a concept like evil. Robin Wright gives the best performance of her career, surpassing what she accomplished in The Playboys.

Looking and seeming like a younger Jessica Lange, she is believable as the object of Forrest’s undying affection. The scene-stealer, however, is Gary Sinise. A renowned stage director and actor, Sinise is probably best known to film-goers (to the extent that he is known at all) for his portrayal of George in 1992’s Of Mice and Men (which he also directed). In this movie, his portrayal of Lieutenant Dan Taylor is riveting. The passion and pain he brings to the middle portions of Forrest Gump hold together some of the film’s weaker moments.

The soundtrack boasts a variety of sounds of the era – perhaps too wide a variety. Often, music can be useful in establishing a mood, but Forrest Gump rockets into the realm of overkill. There are sequences when the choice of song is inspired (the use of “Running on Empty” for Forrest’s “long run” comes to mind), but the soundtrack could have used a little pruning. There are times when it seems as much designed to sell CDs as to cement the setting.

Ultimately, however, any such gripes about Forrest Gump are minor. This is a marvelous motion picture — a mint julep on a hot summer’s afternoon.

  • A movie review by James Berardinelli

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Forrest Gump (1994) Credits

Forrest Gump movie poster

Forrest Gump (1994)

Rated PG-13 For Drug Content, Sensuality and War Violence

135 minutes

Cast

Robin Wright as Jenny Curran

Gary Sinise as Lt. Dan

Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump

Directed by

  • Robert Zemeckis

 

Forrest Gump (United States, 1994)

Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, Sally Field
Screenplay: Eric Roth based on the novel by Winston Groom
Cinematography: Don Burgess
Music: Alan Silvestri
U.S. Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Ranked #6 in Berardinelli’s Top 10 of 1994

Run Time: 2:22
U.S. Release Date: 1994-07-06
MPAA Rating: “PG-13” (Sexual Situations, Drugs, Nudity, Violence, Profanity)
Genre: DRAMA
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

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Forrest Gump (1994) Plot

In 1981, at a bus stop in Savannah, Georgia, a man named Forrest Gump recounts his life story to strangers who happen to sit next to him on the bench. As a boy in 1956, Forrest has an IQ of 75 and is fitted with leg braces to correct a curved spine.

He lives in Greenbow, Alabama with his mother, who runs a boarding house and encourages him to live beyond his disabilities. Among their temporary tenants is a young Elvis Presley, who plays the guitar for Forrest and incorporates the boy’s jerky dance movements into his performances. On his first day of school, Forrest meets a girl named Jenny Curran, and the two become best friends.

Bullied because of his leg braces and dim-witted appearance, Forrest flees from a group of children, but when his braces break off, he is revealed to be a fast runner.

With this talent, he receives a football scholarship at the University of Alabama in 1962, where he is coached by Bear Bryant, becomes a top kick returner, is named to the All-American team, and meets President John F. Kennedy at the White House. In his first year at college, he witnesses Governor George Wallace’s Stand in the Schoolhouse Door and returns a dropped book to Vivian Malone Jones, one of the students admitted over state resistance.

After graduating college in 1966, Forrest enlists in the U.S. Army. During basic training, he befriends a fellow soldier named Benjamin Buford Blue (nicknamed “Bubba”), who convinces Forrest to go into the shrimping business with him after their service. Later that year, they are sent to Vietnam, serving with the 9th Infantry Division in the Mekong Delta region under Lieutenant Dan Taylor.

After months of routine operations, their platoon is ambushed while on patrol, and Bubba is killed in action. Forrest saves several wounded platoonmates – and Lieutenant Dan, who loses both his legs. Taylor is embittered to have been saved by Forrest; he would rather have died in combat like his ancestors before him, but he is returned to the United States. Forrest is awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

At an anti-war March on the Pentagon rally, Forrest meets Abbie Hoffman and briefly reunites with Jenny, who has become a drug-addicted hippie and anti-war activist. He also develops a talent for ping-pong, and becomes a sports celebrity competing against Chinese teams in ping-pong diplomacy, earning him an interview alongside John Lennon of the Beatles on The Dick Cavett Show.

He appears to influence Lennon’s song, “Imagine”. Forrest spends 1972 New Year’s Eve in New York City with Lieutenant Dan, who has become an alcoholic, still bitter about his disability and the government’s apathy towards Vietnam veterans. Forrest’s ping-pong success eventually leads to a meeting with President Richard Nixon. For this event, he is given a room in the Watergate complex, where he unwittingly exposes the Watergate scandal.

Discharged from the army, Forrest returns to Greenbow and endorses a company that makes ping-pong paddles. He uses the earnings to buy a shrimping boat in Bayou La Batre, fulfilling his promise to Bubba. Lieutenant Dan joins Forrest in 1974, and they initially have little success. After their boat becomes the only one to survive Hurricane Carmen, they pull in huge amounts of shrimp and create the profitable Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.

Lieutenant Dan finally thanks Forrest for saving his life. Dan invests in early Apple stock, which Forrest thinks is “some kind of fruit company”, and the two become millionaires. Forrest gives half of his earnings to Bubba’s family for having inspired the shrimping venture. Forrest returns home to his mother and cares for her during her terminal illness from cancer.

In 1976, Jenny – recovering from years of drugs and abuse – returns to visit Forrest. He proposes to her, and that night she tells Forrest she loves him and the two make love, though she leaves the next morning. Heartbroken, Forrest goes running “for no particular reason” and spends the next three years in a relentless cross-country marathon, becoming famous for another feat before returning to Greenbow. In 1981, Forrest reveals that he is waiting at the bus stop because he received a letter from Jenny, who asked him to visit her.

Forrest is finally reunited with Jenny, who introduces him to their young son, whom she named Forrest Gump Jr. Jenny tells Forrest she is sick with an “unknown virus”. The three move back to Greenbow and Jenny and Forrest finally marry, but she dies a year later. The film ends with Forrest sending his son off on his first day of school.

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Forrest Gump (1994) Box office

Produced on a budget of $55 million, Forrest Gump opened in 1,595 theaters in the United States and Canada grossing $24,450,602 in its opening weekend. Motion picture business consultant and screenwriter Jeffrey Hilton suggested to producer Wendy Finerman to double the P&A (film marketing budget) based on his viewing of an early print of the film. The budget was immediately increased, in line with his advice.

In its opening weekend, the film placed first at the US box office, narrowly beating The Lion King, which was in its fourth week of release. For the first twelve weeks of release, the film was in the top 3 at the US box office, topping the list 5 times, including in its tenth week of release. Paramount removed the film from release in the United States when its gross hit $300 million in January 1995, and it was the second-highest-grossing film of the year behind The Lion King with $305 million.

The film was reissued on February 17, 1995, after the Academy Awards nominations were announced. After the reissue in 1,100 theaters, the film grossed an additional $29 million in the United States and Canada, bringing its total to $329.7 million, making it the third-highest-grossing film at that time behind only E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Jurassic Park, and was Paramount’s biggest, surpassing Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Forrest Gump held the record for being the highest-grossing Paramount film until it was taken by Titanic three years later in 1997. For 12 years, it remained as the highest-grossing film starring Tom Hanks until 2006 when it was surpassed by The Da Vinci Code. Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold over 78.5 million tickets in the US and Canada in its initial theatrical run.

The film took 66 days to surpass $250 million and was the fastest grossing Paramount film to pass $100 million, $200 million, and $300 million in box office receipts (at the time of its release). After reissues, the film has gross receipts of $330,252,182 in the U.S. and Canada and $347,693,217 in international markets for a total of $677,945,399 worldwide.

Even with such revenue, the film was known as a “successful failure”—due to distributors’ and exhibitors’ high fees, Paramount’s “losses” clocked in at $62 million, leaving executives realizing the necessity of better deals. This has also been associated with Hollywood accounting, where expenses are inflated in order to minimize profit sharing. It is Robert Zemeckis’ highest-grossing film to date.

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Forrest Gump (1994) Critical Response

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 71% of 106 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 7.5/10. The website’s consensus reads, “Forrest Gump may be an overly sentimental film with a somewhat problematic message, but its sweetness and charm are usually enough to approximate true depth and grace.” At the website Metacritic, the film earned a rating of 82 out of 100 based on 20 reviews by mainstream critics, indicating “universal acclaim”. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a rare “A+” grade.

The story was commended by several critics. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, “I’ve never met anyone like Forrest Gump in a movie before, and for that matter I’ve never seen a movie quite like ‘Forrest Gump.’ Any attempt to describe him will risk making the movie seem more conventional than it is, but let me try. It’s a comedy, I guess. Or maybe a drama. Or a dream.

The screenplay by Eric Roth has the complexity of modern fiction…The performance is a breathtaking balancing act between comedy and sadness, in a story rich in big laughs and quiet truths…What a magical movie.” Todd McCarthy of Variety wrote that the film “has been very well worked out on all levels, and manages the difficult feat of being an intimate, even delicate tale played with an appealingly light touch against an epic backdrop.”

In contrast, Anthony Lane of The New Yorker called the film “Warm, wise, and wearisome as hell.” Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly said that the film was “glib, shallow, and monotonous” and “reduces the tumult of the last few decades to a virtual-reality theme park: a baby-boomer version of Disney’s America.”

Gump garnered comparisons to fictional character Huckleberry Finn, as well as U.S. politicians Ronald Reagan, Pat Buchanan and Bill Clinton. Peter Chomo writes that Gump acts as a “social mediator and as an agent of redemption in divided times”. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called Gump “everything we admire in the American character – honest, brave, and loyal with a heart of gold.”

The New York Times reviewer Janet Maslin called Gump a “hollow man” who is “self-congratulatory in his blissful ignorance, warmly embraced as the embodiment of absolutely nothing.” Marc Vincenti of Palo Alto Weekly called the character “a pitiful stooge taking the pie of life in the face, thoughtfully licking his fingers.” Bruce Kawin and Gerald Mast’s textbook on film history notes that Forrest Gump’s dimness was a metaphor for glamorized nostalgia in that he represented a blank slate onto which the Baby Boomer generation projected their memories of those events.

 

Forrest Gump (1994) Accolades

Forrest Gump won Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Hanks had won the previous year for Philadelphia), Best Director, Best Visual Effects, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing at the 67th Academy Awards. The film was nominated for seven Golden Globe Awards, winning three of them: Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama, Best Director – Motion Picture, and Best Motion Picture – Drama. The film was also nominated for six Saturn Awards and won two for Best Fantasy Film and Best Supporting Actor (Film).

In addition to the film’s multiple awards and nominations, it has also been recognized by the American Film Institute on several of its lists. The film ranks 37th on 100 Years…100 Cheers, 71st on 100 Years…100 Movies, and 76th on 100 Years…100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition). In addition, the quote “Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get,” was ranked 40th on 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes. The film also ranked at number 61 on Empires list of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time.

In December 2011, Forrest Gump was selected for preservation in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. The Registry said that the film was “honored for its technological innovations (the digital insertion of Gump seamlessly into vintage archival footage), its resonance within the culture that has elevated Gump (and what he represents in terms of American innocence) to the status of folk hero, and its attempt to engage both playfully and seriously with contentious aspects of the era’s traumatic history.”

American Film Institute lists

  • AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies – #71
  • AFI’s 100 Years…100 Laughs – Nominated
  • AFI’s 100 Years…100 Passions – Nominated
  • AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes and Villains:
    • Forrest Gump – Nominated Hero
  • AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes:
    • “Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” – #40
    • “Mama says, ‘Stupid is as stupid does.'” – Nominated
  • AFI’s 100 Years of Film Scores – Nominated
  • AFI’s 100 Years…100 Cheers – #37
  • AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) – #76
  • AFI’s 10 Top 10 – Nominated Epic Film

 

Forrest Gump (1994) Movie Info

Slow-witted Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) has never thought of himself as disadvantaged, and thanks to his supportive mother (Sally Field), he leads anything but a restricted life. Whether dominating on the gridiron as a college football star, fighting in Vietnam or captaining a shrimp boat, Forrest inspires people with his childlike optimism. But one person Forrest cares about most may be the most difficult to save — his childhood love, the sweet but troubled Jenny (Robin Wright).

 

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