#28: Forrest Gump (1994)



As you might know if you're friends with me on Facebook or follow me on twitter (because I've been moaning A LOT), I've had flu. So it was pretty good timing for Forrest Gump to come up on the challenge - my weak and fragile mind couldn't deal with much more. Plus, I wanted a better reason to cry than the fact that I'd been stuck in bed for over a week (which isn't nearly as fun as it sounds). And oh boy did I cry. My brother timed his ailing-sister-check-up very well/badly, coming in just as Forrest says, 'Now, I'm not a smart man, but I do know what love is'. I was a mess.
As much as it pains me to say this (because I'm really not a fan of over-sentimentality) this film has a lot going for it. All the main actors put in fantastic performances: Tom Hanks as the imbecilic but lovably innocent Forrest Gump (his friends call him Forrest Gump), Gary Sinise as Lt. Dan, Sally Field as troubled but dependable mama Gump and even the deplorable cowbag that is Jenny, played by Robin Wright. Then there's the fairly impressive special effects that place Forrest in archive footage of significant events of the mid- to late-twentieth century, at least, impressive for the mid-90s I thought. 
What really clinches the deal for me, as reluctant to love this film as I am, is Hanks as the dim and simply idiotic Gump. What's interesting is that I didn't cry at the main bits you're supposed to, when people let him down, or when loved ones pass. It's the bits where Gump reveals his vulnerabilities, and his belief in and love of others. He's such a beautiful human being! and that's what gives this film its universality of charm.
Incredible shrimp, and incredible waiting staff
I was lucky enough to visit Santa Monica beach with good friends this September, where we partook of a lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. Twenty minutes into the meal, the waiter paused the frenzied feasting of our table and the adjoining one to engage us in heated Forrest Gump quiz-battle. (We won by forfeit - they used their phones!) What the experience showed me about the film is that every now and then it's OK to have a film that's not trying to be controversial, that openly aims to bring people together. Because that's what it did that day at the restaurant, as we laughed with complete strangers over Bubba's middle name and the ridiculousness of 'peas and carrots' meaning closeness. Forrest Gump does cover the darker side of America's twentieth-century experience, but at its core is a big heart that draws us together to remember what is honourable, worthy of respect and admiration - honest and active love. (Urgh, I hate sentimentality, but the sentiment is just so lovely).

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