Forrest Gump is a film that I found by chance back in the mid 1990s. I immediately fell madly in love with both the characters and the journey that they take.
Tom Hanks, as the dimwitted lead character, has never been better in my view. In fact this was when he was churning out magnificant performances on a regular basis – think of Sleepless in Seattle, Philadelphia, Apollo 13, Toy Story and Saving Private Ryan, all within a five year period. It would be great if we got that Tom Hanks back again because cinema is the poorer without him.
What struck me upon viewing this film again after several years is the wonderfully threaded love story between Gump and Jenny (Robin Wright). While the film is very much in the fantasy genre, the love story between the two lead characters is truly believable.
Gump loves Jenny from the first time they meet on the school bus but as someone who is ‘normal’ Jenny sees her ‘slow’ friend as simply that – a friend. However, as the years go by we see Jenny fall by the wayside, from one relationship to another. The only constant is Forrest. This ‘rock’ of a friend soon makes her realize that he is someone she can rely on and who loves her for who she is. The pay off at the end, on her sick bed, when Forrest tells her she was always with him through the years is a still a tearjerker.
As for the comedy elements of the film, Hanks hits all the right notes – from the accent to his facial expressions, here is an actor at the top of his game. Alongside him, we have the ever reliable Gary Sinese as Lt. Dan, the aformentioned Wright and the wonderful Sally Field, as Forrest’s momma.
I love how Zemeckis was able to put Gump in many of the real world events from the source book. From meeting three US presidents to showing Elvis Presley how to ‘move his hips’, the charm of this wonderful film grips you from the get-go.
It’s a shame that a sequel was never made but I suppose the worry would be that you cannot capture the innocence of the first movie (despite Gump & Co – the book – garnering positive reviews).
Like Hanks’ movie career since, momma’s advice has never been more apt: ‘Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get’.