Ah, Forrest Gump. My favorite film ever made. Well, of films that I’ve seen. So why is that, do you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.
First and foremost, after having seen it I don’t know how many times, it still manages to make me smile whenever I watch it. Tom Hanks is so endearing that you can’t help but smile every time he’s on the screen. He’s always out to make things better for everyone, even if he seems a little quixotic at times. (nasty! I used the word ‘quixotic’ in one of my reviews. I rule.) And how can you not laugh at how naïve he is in front of Kennedy and Johnson. And that blank stare he has when Governor Wallace is standing outside the Alabama door. Priceless!
The complexities of the supporting cast are also very well done. Jenny (Robin Wright, now Robin Wright-Penn) is abused as a kid, and we see how that affects her as she grows older. Forrest’s mom (Sally Field) struggles to get by, but spends most of her energy on instilling good values on her son. I’m sure she had her own story, as Forrest does, but as we’re seeing the story through Forrest’s eyes, we see his mom through his eyes too. Likewise Lt. Dan (Gary Sinise), who’s pissed off after the war and spends most of his time mired in self-pity. (by the way, how ridiculous are those special effects on his legs? I’m still amazed ten years later.) And I gotta mention Bubba (Mykelti Williamson), who instantly bonds with Gump, as they are both pretty much simple people.
But the heart of the film lies with the performance of Tom Hanks, as he’s in (as you’d expect) nearly every scene. What makes his performance so wondrous is how he manages to create a balance that is nearly impossible. We admire Forrest, his values, and his devotion to those values. But we also laugh at him at several times during the film. You have to give props to Hanks for creating a persona so laughable yet so admirable at the same time.+4