Director: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Sally Field, Mykelti Williamson, Rebecca Williams, Sam Anderson
Rated: PG-13 (Drug content, some sensuality and war violence)
Forrest Gump, while not intelligent, has accidentally been present at many historic moments, but his true love, Jenny Curran, eludes him.
By Cole Schneider
My history with “Forrest Gump” is quite similar to his friend Lt. Dan’s: what started dubitably grew into disdain, before I was finally able to appreciate this national treasure. I still find flaws throughout the film, but 20 years later it’s easier to see why it’s an American classic.
This is epic myth-making reminiscent of old John Ford westerns, crafting a hero that slices through the heart of what it means to be an American. For a film that constantly casts America in a dour light, “Gump” has connected in unique ways with its subject since. It has become an event not unlike those it constantly, briefly covers–iconic. Some of those events are handled clumsily (John Lennon) and some are handled wonderfully (Watergate), but they’re all handled with charm. It’s strange that a film so intertwined with a political history could be so politically ambivalent. Neither conservative nor liberal, “Gump” is rather American.
In a broken world jumping from identity to identity, it’s dumb Forrest with his courage, compassion, and convictions that becomes our steadying point. He is America at its best: not always smart, but persistent, caring, and selfless. These are the higher virtues. This is America. This is Forrest.
It’s characters are more concerned with being simple and understood than multi-dimensional and surprising. Forrest is more concerned with loving his friends and resisting hatred of his enemies than with being famous. I hope America follows in his footsteps for the next 20 years and beyond as a country famous for loving its friends and resisting hatred of our enemies. To be that point-of-reference is as much as we can demand of an American myth. Thank you, “Forrest Gump”. Happy 20th birthday!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
By Matt Greene
There aren’t many movies that have penetrated the subconscious of the American zeitgeist as intensely as Gump, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a film that deftly mixes nearly every genre into one epic tale, yet never shies away from the importance of small moments. But with this much love, cynicism and (some deserved) scorn aren’t far behind: terms like “on-the nose” and “syrupy sweet” come to mind. But what’s the advantage of this cynicism when it’s so rewarding to just sit back and enjoy? At its core, Gump is pure Hollywood magic that deserves to be treasured.
Essentially a biopic of a fictional character, Gump is first-person-perspective storytelling with a protagonist who sees much but perceives little…at least not in the same way we do. Swimming in historical fiction and even magical realism, he impacts American history: presidents are met, classic songs are heard, Vietnam wars are fought…yet Forrest’s gaze is set on one thing: love. It’s silly and whimsical, yet consistently surprising to see Forrest navigate through life with such sincerity and tenacity.
Lest we neglect how technically impeccable the film is. The aesthetic is simplistic and gorgeous, and the effects (missing limbs, altered historical footage) are light years ahead of what they should be. But these things are rarely mentioned because they aren’t the point. Zemeckis wants the movie to be the same as its hero: simple, random, sincere. Gump’s unconditional love, overwhelming kindness, and naïve determination got him wherever he needed to be, and that journey leaves him and us in stitches, while never abandoning hope. Manipulative? Maybe…or maybe it’s just great filmmaking.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars