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Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Retro Review: Forrest Gump (1994)

Forrest Gump
Cast: Tom Hanks, Sally Field, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson
Genre: Romantic Comedy Drama
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $677 million

Plot: The presidencies of Kennedy and Johnson, Vietnam, Watergate, and other history unfold through the perspective of an Alabama man with an IQ of 75 

''The World According To Gump Who Is No Chump''

Released during the summer of 1994, Forrest Gump was one of those movies that I didn't pay attention towards at the time and back then, when my movie tastes were pretty limited as I was more into the popular action and comedy movies of the 1980s and 1990s. Over time, Forrest Gump's relevance and appeal are not just in the movie sense, it became something of a cultural phenomenon boosted by the famous catchphrase, ''life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.'' Even sports company, Nike got a bit of attention through the White Cortez branded sneakers adorned with the red swoosh worn by Forrest himself. 

1994's Forrest Gump was Tom Hanks's follow-up to the mega-hits, rom-com Sleepless in Seattle and the HIV-based drama, Philadelphia that came out during the previous year and once again, Hanks's movie career was making positive strides right into the 2000s. 

Forrest Gump reminds me slightly of Hanks' hit, Big, in the sense that it revisits some of the themes of growing up, adolescence and being a coming-of-age tale: the difference here being whereas Josh was a fully fledged adult who still has a mind of a teenager, Forrest remains a child both in spirit and heart and who is far more innocent & subtle. However, this is not without its challenges as his road is both bumpy and full of obstacles that he and his loved ones have struggled to overcome. Forrest's commitment and devotion towards his childhood sweetheart, Jenny is met with both jubilation and heartbreak. Hanks channels his character's eccentricity and down-to-earth Alabama charm with perfection and as a joint comedic and dramatic performance, this is him at his absolute finest. Seeing his character running in various scenes, it's almost as if there is a context as to why Forrest does it: & this becomes a metaphor of the movie itself and of him running. When he runs, he gets out of a dangerous or unfortunate situation - yet it is when he doesn't realise himself why he does it. But by pondering on it, he simply does what he feels is right and how he'd go by his mother's instincts. 

Robin Wright, whose performance I enjoyed in the much-maligned Barry Levinson picture, Toys, gives undoubtedly and probably her best onscreen turn and I think, in general, she is a very capable actress but like so many others like her, luck hasn't been on her side, thus, she just hasn't had more of the quality roles that would have elevated her alongside Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and others. As Jenny, as a character, though sometimes I can't wrap my head around the reasons why she left Forrest, even though he is a good and positive influence & she finds herself in dire and rough situations, Wright shows an array of emotions and is so credible as Gump's emotionally wounded sweetheart. Forrest Gump is much about Jenny's journey as it is Forrest's. The supporting cast sees Sally Field, Gary Sinise and Mykelti Williamson all conveying strong and committed turns. 

The sentimentality works well and though it feels a little too preachy in places, it's not too overdone either. Forrest Gump is a touching, extraordinary, occasionally amusing, heartwarming and poignant dramedy that still hasn't lost its magic and appeal, two decades later. 

As far as to whether it deserved best picture ahead of Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption will be continuously debated, although I'd take that over Paul Haggis's Crash winning Best Picture at the 2006 Oscars. 

One that I overlooked, I finally got the chance to experience this for the first time, and I was extremely impressed. 

Final Verdict:

As Forrest, this is up there as one of Tom Hanks's finest and iconic performances of his career, although as Andrew Beckett in Jonathan Demme's Philadelphia, still reigns as my personal favourite.

Deemed a masterpiece almost 25 years ago, Forrest Gump still, and deservedly so, hits a nerve for so many people and Tom Hanks fans. It is the film 1982's The World According To Garp should have been... & ought to have turned out and in spite of some of its similarities in structure and narrative beats, Forrest Gump is quirkier and far more entertaining in contrast with even greater performances, all-round. & that is coming from a Robin Williams fan myself. 

If Forrest Gump was a box of chocolates, it would be Cadbury's Roses, and Cadbury's Roses are regarded by many as top quality stuff. 


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