Take a Drink: any time Forrest mentions his momma
Take a Drink: each time Forrest appears in archival footage, or shows up in a news report
Drink a Shot: every time a pop song plays (who didn’t own this soundtrack back in the 90s?)
By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Two Beers) –
On a bright morning in Savannah, Georgia in 1981 a man sits on a bench waiting for his bus to arrive. This man is Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks), a somewhat slow-minded, but well-intentioned man who has seemingly influenced historical events in every decade of his life. From Elvis Presley to the Civil Rights movement, from Vietnam to the Watergate Scandal and beyond, Forrest has lived a full life, and he’s all too happy to tell his story to whoever sits next to him.
Forrest Gump was a hit with critic and audiences alike at the time of its original release; receiving the Academy Award for Best Picture of the year (1994), Best Director (Robert Zemeckis), Best Actor (Tom Hanks), best visual effects, best adapted screenplay, and best film editing, and raking in an incredible $677,792,716.00 in ticket sales to date (according to Box Office Mojo).
In spite of all these accolades, the film’s prominence has declined somewhat over the years, mostly due to an ever-growing fanbase of supporters for two of the film’s chief awards competitors (Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption). With this 20th anniversary re-release the film shows that it still has staying power, regardless of whether you agree with its awards history or not. The concept of history being shaped by a quintessential “everyman” wasn’t particularly new (Woody Allen did much the same in Zelig), but the film approaches them with a unique viewpoint, allowing the audience to revisit history through child-like eyes, which seems to only deepen the impact of the film’s themes. The influence of Forrest Gump is so heavily felt that elements of it are still co-opted as a dramatic shorthand even today.
The film’s greatest strength is in the performances of its principle cast. All too often in films featuring a mentally challenged character, the performance can feel unnecessarily saccharine or stereotypical. Tom Hanks’ performance avoids these issues by focusing on character first. Credit has to be given also to director Zemeckis and screenwriter Eric Roth for allowing Hanks the flexibility to craft the character. Gary Sinise’s turn as Lt. Dan Taylor is also worth noting as his transformation and redemption story arguably is as, if not more, interesting than Gump’s own story, as is Robin Wright’s role as Gump’s long-time friend and would-be girlfriend Jenny, whose struggles with abuse and addiction serve to highlight the sad reality of life.
One thing I’ve never loved is how the film takes a break from the story to insert Forrest into some archival footage talking to some celebrity or other. This might have worked in the 90s for nostalgic value, but looking back on it now, it is painfully obvious that the voices were dubbed, and for all the work they put into making Forrest appear like he’s in the same room as John Lennon, you can’t tell me you’re not cringing after their hackneyed exchange.
This almost ruined the movie for me…
Sometimes the dramatics can be a tad forced (especially with regards to Forrest’s Mom & Jenny), but overall the film does a fantastic job building its story believably, even with some rather far-fetched plot contrivances.