Classic Movie Review: Forrest Gump (1994)

Title: Forrest Gump
Release Date: July 6, 1994
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Production Company: The Tisch Company

When I see Forrest Gump on the AFI 100 list, I know it doesn’t belong there. On the other hand, there’s a cottage industry that’s arisen over the past 26 years that insists that Forrest Gump is on of the worst movies of all time, and I don’t think that’s right either. I remember watching and enjoying Forrest Gump in the movie theaters all those years and liking and enjoying it. Revisiting it now, I still like and enjoy it. And that’s fine.

I think Forrest Gump gets its reputation for good or for bad because it is a movie that is hard to get a handle on. It’s not really a comedy and it’s not really a drama. It’s famous for digitally editing Tom Hanks into moments from history, but that’s more of a running gag than the point of the movie. It’s considered inspirational, but a lot of what happens in the movie is very dark and the protagonist is just completely unware of that. The movie is slammed for being a nostalgia trough for Baby Boomers, but it is also a caustic satire of that same generation. Gump is claimed by conservatives as a beacon of traditional American values, but he’s often quite progressive for his place and time. Gump talks an awful lot, but does he ever say anything meaningful?

If there’s one thing that bugs me about this movie, it is the problem of Jenny. Not Robin Wright’s performance, which is as good as could be, but the fact that her character seems to exist to suffer. It’s like a type of cruel pornography.

That aside, it’s a clever and entertaining movie with some good acting by Hanks, Wright, Gary Sinise (as Lieutenant Dan) and others. If you can see it as something other than one of the best movies or worst movies of all time, it may just be an enjoyable couple of hours of your time.

Rating: ***1/2