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Martin Movie - FORREST GUMP

Martin Movie - FORREST GUMP

April 01, 2024

Moving back into the rich history of Best Picture winners for April, it feels like time to stir up some controversy. So far this year, each pick has been one I agreed deserved the Academy’s top honor. That stops today! Prepare to be completely encased in schmaltz as we celebrate the 30-year anniversary of Forrest Gump (1994, dir. Robert Zemeckis).

Forrest Gump tells the story of its titular hero (Tom Hanks) and his life growing up in Alabama. As a child with an IQ of 75 and a spine curvature that forces him to grow up with leg braces, this life was not easy. Tormented by other children, Forrest struggles to find his place in the world. Encouraged by his mother (Sally Field) and childhood friend Jenny (Robin Wright), he does eventually find that place. What follows is a historical fiction story that places Forrest at the University of Alabama as integration was first happening, in the Vietnam War (where we meet Bubba, played by the excellent Mykelti Williams), and at the center of the hippie movement, among others. Forrest becomes a war hero, All American football player, Olympic table tennis champion, and shrimp magnate despite not fully being aware of what he is accomplishing. The entire story is told as he remembers it to random strangers who sit next to him on a street bench waiting for a bus.

Before I take out some aggression on this film, let me say that I do not hate it. I just never saw the mass appeal of what many people might call their favorite movie of all time. Its charms never worked on me to the degree it wanted to. What I see is an overly long, incredibly manipulative film with some very good performances and its only emotional punches can be seen coming from miles away.

All that said, the film holds up very well, and Tom Hanks richly deserved the love he got for his performance. But the best film of 1994? Not even close. From among the films also nominated for Best Picture, I put it in fourth place (behind Pulp Fiction, The Shawshank Redemption, and the criminally underrated Quiz Show). I believe voters fell prisoner of the moment and chose a narrative over the best film. I believe most would now agree that at least two of the three I mentioned above would take the prize in a revote.

Forrest Gump feels like cotton candy. (Get ready for a super questionable analogy!) It is overly sweet and stays with you for a while. When you are done, you will be a little blue. The remnants get stuck on you until you wash it off. In the moment, it feels like a desirable choice, but halfway through most people regret the choice. If you feel compelled to finish it, it will probably make you sick. Ultimately, it may give you a short-term boost, but it is a poor substitute for real food. You know what? I take it back. That is a freaking brilliant analogy. Slowly drop a feather on this analogy because it is perfect.

FUN FACT – Following his portrayal of Lt. Dan Snyder, Gary Sinise created a foundation for injured war veterans. The foundation, among other things, builds smart homes, serves meals, and transports veterans via private jet to places across the world.

Just Watch says that Forrest Gump is currently streaming on Prime Video and Paramount + (with subscriptions). It is also available for rent/purchase on most platforms including Apple TV, YouTube, and GooglePlay.

As a reminder, here is the original post that details the scores and weighting system.