by Ken B.
The more something enters the public lexicon, the harder it becomes to view it from an impartial standpoint. However, I feel that regardless of its stance, Forrest Gump is a poignant, if not sometimes occasionally overemotional piece of American cinematic fiction. This is the story of Forrest Gump (TOM HANKS), a plain spoken Southern man, who tells his life story on a bus stop bench to strangers that pass by. Despite the fact he tells it in an unremarkable tone, he has had a hand in some of the key events in mid 20th Century Americana. He was raised by his mother (SALLY FIELD), was in the Vietnam War, with a shrimping expert named Bubba (MYKELTI WILLIAMSON), and a lieutenant named Dan (GARY SINISE). Back home, he proves himself an excellent ping-pong player, and gains considerable fame (for someone who’s a ping-pong player, that is). He embarks on a couple of business ventures with Lt. Dan, but his thoughts are never far from his childhood friend, Jenny (ROBIN WRIGHT).
Looking over at that last paragraph, I wonder if I even did this sweeping plot any justice. Covering time from the 1950s to the 1980s, footage of Hanks is digitally implanted in archival footage, involving notable historical figures and events. From beginning to end, this is a beautiful story, highlighted by incredible performances and a script to match. By the second half of the movie, we are reduced to three main performances. Hanks gives us a naturally likable man, who never becomes inflated over his achievements, possibly because he doesn’t realize them himself. Sinise, as a hardened veteran, is brilliant, clearly absorbed by the character he is working with, and Wright, given a character that must tumble through tumultuous periods of history, does so with a convincing polish.
There’s a term, “Hollywood magic”, which is typically used to denote the long-passed sensation that a truly good movie could bring to it’s viewers. Forrest Gump brings a bit of that feeling back, a euphoric, feel good experience that sticks with you as a slice of inspiration, lodged within your memory. I find it personally disheartening that so few movies can do that today that a movie like this seems like some sort of gold by comparison.
There’s music – oh! There’s music. Along with Alan Silvestri’s memorable, albeit overdone score, selections from arguably the best eras of American music are featured in this movie, while doing little to notably advance the film itself, are still a highly appreciated addition.
Forrest Gump has gone on to be imprinted in American culture, probably due to its own infatuation with this. This is an admirable movie, astonishing in the way that it can work on numerous levels. This is also an unapologetically emotional movie, maybe showing too much emotion at times, but these occasions are few and far apart. Regardless of any flaws, while watching Forrest Gump, you’ll be reminded of a kind of mystical feeling that cinema rarely gives.