Forrest Gump (1994) Review

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If you aren’t aware of our YouTube channel then I will go ahead and plug it here because we have a show that we like to call Oscar Bait. Each episode we take a look at a previous Best Picture winning movie in no particular order. Our first one was the most recent winner Parasite and this week it’s Forrest Gump. I have seen this movie numerous times, but it has always been more of a pick it up sometime in the middle of the movie or I had only seen bits and pieces of it, so this is the first time I actually found myself sitting down to watch the movie as a whole. With it being the first full experience and for the purpose of writing a review and for our show I was looking at this movie differently and hoping to enjoy it as much as I always have.

While watching this movie, I wanted to brush up a bit on my knowledge of the year that it won best picture and found that it was up against Shawshank Redemption and Pulp Fiction, so you could say it was a bit of a stacked year. I don’t want to get into it too much, but I wanted to watch this movie and see why it was maybe the more favored pick among those three.

The most instant reaction I had about this movie is that it really is a feel good movie from start to finish. Not that it tells a story that is always happy and positive, but that it tells an honest and truly feel good story of a fantastical version of history through the eyes of an unlikely tour guide of sorts. This movie makes the most out of the fantastical feel it has by approaching the alternate history factor in more of a way of how our character was affected by everything rather than your typical kind of what would our world be like if things were different.

The movie takes us away from the world we are used to and gives us a world that we know is different and not accurate, but it’s told in such a charming way that we don’t think twice about that aspect and simply enjoy the movie for what it’s trying to do. This movie is truly a fantasy movie at its core and Forrest himself goes through a sort of heroes journey that comes full circle by the end of the film.

I believe that it’s the multilayered and mixed genre that really sticks out as being the more unique factor that separates itself from those other films. It’s a movie that is more inspiring to watch than say Shawshank, and is more enjoyable to watch than Pulp Fiction. Forrest Gump gives us the life of a mythical hero of sorts, but one that is no different than you and I. That is the key point that I took away from watching this movie. It’s something so important to all of us that makes this movie so much more impactful than I think we realize until we sit down and understand some of the messages that are trying to be given to us.

This movie hinges on the character of Forrest played by Tom Hanks who also won Best Actor that year for his performance. I can’t remember who all was nominated alongside him, but I find it hard to believe that a performance like this could ever be passed up for winning. Tom Hanks gives us a performance that will etch him and his character into history forever and will always be remembered. We all know how good of an actor Tom Hanks is, but his legacy will be stapled by his portrayal of Forrest as well as a few others.

It’s incredibly hard to look at a character like Forrest on paper and be able to pull it off as well as intended inside someone’s head. It’s a great feat that Tom Hanks was able to fully embrace this character and make us believe that this character is a real part of our history, but of course it doesn’t all rely on Hanks. The supporting cast of his mom, Jenny, and Lt. Dan played by Sally Field, Robin Wright, and Gary Sinise, complete the circle that is Forrest Gump’s life. I would also highlight Bubba who doesn’t have as big of a physical role, but is greatly impactful to Forrest from the time he meets him.

If it wasn’t just the performances or the actual approach to the story than it was the expert directing by Robert Zemeckis. This is a movie based on a book that I feel on paper might seem like a difficult task to pull off. I’m also not a fan of voice over during a movie, and this movie has voiceover for a majority of the film and I never have a problem with it. Of course it stems back to the performance by Hanks, but it’s also the great directing to hold everything together and to give us great pacing and delivery on the actual story.

This brings me back to my point of just how smart this story really is. It’s more than just a silly movie about a silly character who goes through a fake version of history, but rather the story of a hero of sorts that goes through the heroes journey. We are introduced to Forrest who is the unlikeliest of people to succeed in life, but never once let’s things bring him down. When he finally starts his journey away from home he finds many obstacles in his path, but never once veers away from his purpose and plan. To live an enjoy life no matter what is thrown in his way.

We see him do anything and everything that he likes to do or go along with whatever is thrown in front of him like the war. He learns from everything he goes through in life, but in the end when he finally makes it back home and is taking care of his child at the end of his heroes journey, he hasn’t changed at his core, but rather changed from his experiences as a hero should. This is a movie that in hard times or in times where we feel insecure and unsure of the hard times in life we all need to watch and understand what is truly being told.

Forrest Gump is very much deserving of the Best Picture win that it earned. It’s a movie that is a feel good movie and is secretly one of the better most well-crafted stories with how well it tells it’s story and how unique the heroes journey is that we see. This is a movie that I know most of us have seen, but really it’s one that may be more important now then we realize. If you haven’t seen this movie then you need to go out and watch it because it truly is a great movie.

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