Friday, February 21, 2014

Best Picture: "Forrest Gump," 1994

Movie Stats:
Released 1994 (USA)
American, in English
Director – Robert Zemeckis
Stars – Tom Hanks, Sally Field, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson

Plot Summary:
The life and times of Forrest Gump (Hanks), a man born with a slightly-below-average IQ. Field co-stars as his mother; Wright as his love interest, Jenny; Sinise as his the leader of his Vietnam-era Army platoon (and later friend), Lt. Dan Taylor; and Williamson as his best Army buddy, Bubba Blue.

Very minimal blue language; somewhat graphic war violence (but that part of the movie is brief); non-graphic sexual scenarios (no nudity), one of which heavily implies child molestation.

Bad Stuff:
I remember people at the time making a big deal out of the technology used to insert Forrest into well-known historic footage, such as a meeting with President Johnson. That special effect hasn’t held up well. In fact, it’s really bad/creepy.

It’s SO cheesy, really cringe- and eye roll-inducing cheesy. So you want me to believe that [SPOILERS] Forrest, as a child, not only met Elvis but also gave him his dance moves? That because he can run really fast, he magically gets a football scholarship to college? That he was unintentionally responsible for or present at many of the cool things that happened in the 1960s and 70s? [END SPOILERS] I know I’m supposed to find this stuff cute/funny/charming but I don’t. I think it’s stupid and annoying.

Good Stuff:
If you wade through all the cheese, you eventually get to some genuinely funny stuff. The line “One night, it started to rain. It didn’t stop for four months.” had me laughing out loud. So too did the homage to Midnight Cowboy.

Loved Gary Sinise in this. I thought he was the best part.

It’s good-hearted. It’s difficult to dislike a film this sweet. It feels sort of wrong, like disliking Forrest himself just because he’s goofy and stupid.

The Verdict:
I successfully avoided this movie for 20 years. Back in my younger days, I had a strong dislike of “The Toms” – Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks. I did my best not to see any of their movies. Although everyone I know raves about “Forrest Gump,” I never saw it because, I reasoned, I already disliked Tom Hanks, why would I want to watch a movie of him acting stupid? Although my opinion of Hanks later changed (my opinion of Cruise did not), I still never had any desire to see this film. To me, it just looked sappy and cheesy.

I was not wrong. It was even cheesier than I was anticipating. Even so, as I said above, it’s kind of hard to dislike it. While I’ll probably never watch it again, or recommend it to anyone, I don’t loathe it as I have some other winners (The Greatest Show on Earth, Tom Jones). Do I think it deserved the win? Probably not. It’s not groundbreaking nor does it delve into any meaty issues, but it is incredibly likable.

I give it 3 stars.


Lauren said...

I saw this when I was younger, after much hype. I couldn't figure out why everyone was obsessed with it. It didn't help that I probably saw it when I was TOO young, so my parents had to keep explaining all the important events and people

Patricia said...

I loved this movie when it came out. Boyfriend #4 and I saw it in the movie theater and we both really liked it. After he broke up with me, he wrote me a letter (we were attempting to be friends) and I can still remember the line: "Shasta [new girlfriend] and I saw Pulp Fiction. Blew Forrest Gump right out of the water." It took me a few months to see Pulp Fiction because it wasn't playing in my college town, but man, did I hate that movie. I wasn't sure at the time if I hated it because the new girl liked it so much, or because I really hated it. Subsequent viewings of Tarantino films have taught me it was the director and not the new girlfriend that was really driving the hate.

Anyway, I haven't seen Forrest Gump since the early 90s and suspect I would feel the same embarrassed tenderness I feel toward many things of that era of my life.

balyien said...

Lauren - That makes sense. If I'd seen this even a year ago, the whole "homage to Midnight Cowboy" scene would've gone right over my head. If I'd seen it as a child, I imagine that so much of it wouldn't have connected.

I feel like this is a movie for Baby Boomers - it encompasses nearly all of what their generation went through. Obviously, people of other generations can connect with & enjoy it, but they were definitely the target audience.

Patricia - The 90s were strange. There were a lot of edgy, exploratory movies such as "Pulp Fiction" and "Swingers" produced. At the same time, there were a lot of movies with high levels of sentimentality, such as "Forrest Gump" and "Titanic." I wonder if it's a Baby Boomer-director vs. Gen X-director thing.

I still love some very sappy 90s movies. :)

Patricia said...

It's so totally a movie for Baby Boomers. I'm sure you are aware how the whole world bows to their experience.

I think you've hit the nail on the head with the boomer vs. X comparison. It would be fun to divide them up and see where they fall.

balyien said...

I was thinking the same thing about actually doing a little research into the popular movies of the 90s to see if there's a pattern re: directors. Perhaps I'll do so.