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Forrest Gump

A 1994 American drama film directed by Robert Zemeckis based on the 1986 novel by Winston Groom.

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Have they no shame?

  • Oct 4, 2010
  • by
Gosh, where to begin?

For starters, our boy Forrest has an I.Q. of 75. Played - apparently not much of a stretch - by Tom Hanks, on a natural stop along the career arc that took him from the simpering idiocy of Bosom Buddies to the affront to the intelligence that is The Da Vinci Code.

You might reasonably ask what type of banality one should expect from a film with voiceover by someone with an IQ of 75. Well, this type:

"Life is like a box of chocolates"
"Stupid is as stupid does"
"We was like peas and carrots"

In the book, Forrest is an idiot savant; in the movie he's just an idiot. But a special idiot, apparently, one whose exploits include, but are not limited to

• Winning a football scholarship to the University of Alabama, becoming an All-American and meeting JFK in the White House
• Graduating college in 5 years (unclear how, exactly)
• Enlisting in the army, going to Vietnam and winning a Medal of Freedom, getting to show his wounded buttock to LBJ.
• Meeting Abbie Hoffman, John Lennon, Nixon, Dick Cavett.
• Becoming a ping-pong champion, traveling to China
• Meeting Nixon, discovering the Watergate burglars, triggering the Watergate scandal
• Becoming super-wealthy from his shrimp boat
• Becoming super-duper wealthy from a fortuitous early Apple investment
• Starting the jogging craze, the smiley button, the expression "shit happens", the fad for pet rocks, and anything else of cultural import during the 70's.

We are appraised of each of these events by Forrest's droning voiceover.

Throughout the malodorous mulligatawny of muddle-headed, meandering misadventures that constitute the “plot” of this mess of a movie, we are expected to believe that our slow-witted friend, by obeying orders and never questioning authority, passes through the 60's and 70's going from one success to the next, meeting with world leaders and presidents, leaving his Gump-stain on all the major milestones of the age.

For bathos, the tale of his lady-love, a hippie-stripper-peacenik-drug-addict-crazy woman, is interwoven - it's basically a downhill trajectory for her, culminating in the final indignity of succumbing to complications from AIDS, as one more desperate milestone is crammed in to the festering goulash of the plot. Before her final exit, we learn she has fulfilled her plot obligations by popping out a Forrest Junior, played all too convincingly by the nauseatingly cute personification of perky moppet-dom, Halie Joel Ozspawn.

Let's see, what's the message here? It seems to be that an idiot can not only survive, but prosper and excel, in the U.S. of A. An idiot can, in fact, be directly involved in every development of political or cultural significance in the U.S. over a two-decade period. We know this, because the idiot tells us so himself.

So here's the thing. This emotionally manipulative tapestry of implausibility was a huge success - both financially and critically. How could a string of ever-more incredible tall tales, narrated by a simpleton, end up being so universally acclaimed? I think there are two reasons, neither of which reflects particularly well on the movie, or on the public who gave it such a rapturous reception.
First, the fundamental message - idiot not only makes good, but becomes a huge success - is one which, however stupid, is enormously appealing to the American public. A society which is deeply anti-intellectual at its core, where accusing someone of being "elitist" is considered a major body blow, sufficient to shut down all further debate, is apparently all too happy to lap up the myth of the success of an imbecile like Forrest. Never mind that in real life, Forrest would end up soiling himself in the corner of whatever Dickensian mental home the state of Alabama had consigned him to.
Second, the moviemakers have made a very canny calculation, figuring - apparently correctly - that since the solipsism and self-obsession of the Baby Boomers knows no bounds, one recipe for success is to pepper the movie with scenes guaranteed to manipulate a Boomer recognition response. Thus, Boomers are given a double treat in this movie - they get to take a guided tour of the nostalgic highlights of their two most formative decades, in the company of an amiable dullard to whom they can only feel superior. What’s not to love?

Forgive me if I, for one, reject the implied message that obeying orders and unquestioning obedience to authority pave the way to success, in this, or in any decade. Because, no matter how charmingly the simpleton might peddle it, crap is still crap. And there’s no pony hidden in the steaming heap of manure that is “Forrest Gump”. It offends the intelligence.

Thank you. I feel so much better now that's off my chest. Coming soon: "Angela's Ashes".

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March 18, 2012
Well done - with keen critical incision, a refreshingly unsparing perspective and one instance of charming alliteration!

More than any other medium, the success of ostentatiously trite films conveys a wealth of insight regarding the inadequacies of a contemporary body politic.
October 10, 2010
Thank you. Now I don't have to write my review of this movie, as you summed up much of what I found so unappealing about it.
More Forrest Gump reviews
review by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
   This was definitely a 5 star movie and one of Tom Hanks best movies ever. Forrest Gump overscomes so many obstacles in this movie in spite of his mental challenges.  The hype leading up to this movie was a winner and of course it was spectacular. It was motivating, challenging, a tear jerker at times and made you look in the mirror the next time you thought you had something to complain about. He falls in love, fathers a child, serves our country, cares for his dying  mother …
Quick Tip by . September 06, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
An all-time classic and one of the most touching movies I've ever seen. Great soundtrack too!
review by . May 15, 2009
In the early fifties two children are born in the less-fortunate parts of Alabama - one is Forrest Gump and the other is his best friend Jenny. Though these two children have the same starting points, they grow up to lead very different lives. In Robert Zemeckis' Oscar-winning film Forrest Gump we're introduced to Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) who always seems to have his route in life predetermined by the most unfortunate of circumstances, and manages to get there by running. Jenny (Hanna Hall) on the …
review by . December 11, 2008
Forrest Gump always takes me through so many emotions that by the end I feel like I need to see an endocrinologist. But it's worth it for all the laughs, tears, sighs, and yelps you'll let out in the course of the film.     Basically, I love historical fiction for some reason. I've always been fascinated by what our world, and especially our country, was like during any particular era, be it the Medieval Ages (aka, Braveheart) or the 1970s (Forrest Gump). And this film does a …
review by . December 17, 2008
You either hate it or you love it.  Foresst Gump is a great movie about a simple man who goes through life and experiences the great times in American culture from the 50's to the 80's.  An outstanding plot with comedy, drama, and action all together. Follow Forrest through our nation's history as played by the one and only Tom Hanks.  
review by . September 14, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
What's there not to like about this film? It seems to have everything: crisp direction, outstanding acting, a compelling narrative, life lessons worthy of affirmation, highly innovative special effects, and a soundtrack whose CD continues to be a bestseller. It received and deserved five Academy Awards and could have received others as well. Of special interest to me is director Robert Zemeckis and his crew's brilliant integration of material from Winston Groom's novel with historical material in …
review by . March 04, 2001
posted in Movie Hype
I usually do not remember movies from year to year. However, this one is a strong exception. Whether it was the dramatics, the dry humor, or the general time sequence of watching Forrest grow up, this movie is captivating on all accounts and then some. Definitely worthy of repeated viewings. This is an all time classic.
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About this movie


Forrest Gump is a drama film released on July 6, 1994, produced by Paramount Pictures.  The film was directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Eric Roth, and was based on a novel written by Winston Groom.  The film was produced by Wendy Finerman, Steve Tisch, Charles Newirth, and starred Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, and Sally Field.

Forrest Gump is a story about a man by the same name who is accidentally and ironically present at many historic moments..  After its release, the film received 38 nominations, and received 32 various wins and 6 Academy Awards in 1995 for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Director, Best Effects, Visual Effects, Best Film Editing, Best Picture, and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. 

It was given an MPAA rating of PG-13, and runs 141 minutes. In total, the film grossed over $670 million worldwide.

Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump: though at an early age a doctor determines Forrest possesses an IQ of 75, he encounters many historical figures and events throughout his life. John Travolta was the original choice to play the title role, and admits passing on the role was a mistake.[2] Bill Murray was also considered for the role.[3] Hanks revealed that he signed onto the film after an hour and a half of reading the script.[4] He initially wanted to ease Forrest's pronounced Southern accent, but was eventually persuaded by director Bob Zemeckis to portray the heavy ...
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