The Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Best Director Robert Zemeckis, and Best Actor Tom Hanks, this unlikely story of a slow-witted but good-hearted man somehow at the center of the pivotal events of the 20th century is a funny and heartwarming epic. Hanks plays the title character, a shy Southern boy in love with his childhood best friend (Robin Wright) who finds that his ability to run fast takes him places. As an All-Star football player he meets John F. Kennedy; as a soldier in Vietnam he’s a war hero; and as a world champion Ping-Pong player he’s hailed…
The Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Best Director Robert Zemeckis, and Best Actor Tom Hanks, this unlikely story of a slow-witted but good-hearted man somehow at the center of the pivotal events of the 20th century is a funny and heartwarming epic. Hanks plays the title character, a shy Southern boy in love with his childhood best friend (Robin Wright) who finds that his ability to run fast takes him places. As an All-Star football player he meets John F. Kennedy; as a soldier in Vietnam he’s a war hero; and as a world champion Ping-Pong player he’s hailed by Richard Nixon. Becoming a successful shrimp-boat captain, he still yearns for the love of his life, who takes a quite different and much sadder path in life. The visual effects incorporating Hanks into existing newsreel footage is both funny and impressive, but the heart of the film lies in its sweet love story and in the triumphant performance of Hanks as an unassuming soul who savors the most from his life and times. —Robert Lane
If you read the label on a box of chocolates you’ll know exactly what you’re gonna get. Life isn’t like that in Forrest Gump, however, which is one of the reasons why this movie divided appreciative audiences from hard-hearted critics like few others before it. Audiences responded to the Frank Capra-style sentimentality of this warm-hearted tale of a good ol’ American boy making his way in the world without ever losing his pure and simple innocence. Critics, however, were made uneasy by the apparently reactionary subtext to the parallel lives of Forrest and his girlfriend Jenny. Her fate, contrasted with his, suggests a triumph for plain ol’ American values over dangerous freethinking hippies and liberals. Whether the movie is just unadulterated sentiment or right-wing propaganda, one thing at least was acknowledged by all: that Forrest Gump displays all the craftsmanship of one of Hollywood’s most inventive directors and features a central performance from an actor renowned for his total commitment to every role. Thanks to Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks, even the most cynical critic will find it hard not to shed at least one tear by the end of this undeniably engrossing movie. The soundtrack is great, too. —Mark Walker
Barnes and Noble
A paean to the enduring values of faith, humility, and common decency, 1994’s Forrest Gump remains a shining beacon that overlooks the sea of coarse, cynical, and violent movies currently proffered by Hollywood filmmakers. Tom Hanks won a much-deserved Academy Award for his portrayal of the eponymous protagonist, a dull-witted member of the baby-boom generation who overcomes adversity, survives war, enjoys success, and transforms the lives of all who come into contact with him. Robin Wright is unaccountably touching as the girl he loves; Gary Sinise offers a sharply limned portrayal as Forrest’s scornful army buddy; and Sally Field is memorable as his devoted, long-suffering mother. Director Robert Zemeckis won an Oscar for his inspired directing, which partially blunts the satirical edge of Winston Groom’s novel but creates an alternative reality that’s much more soothing to audiences. Digital technology—innovative for 1994, when the movie was produced—places Forrest at the scene of decisive historical and cultural events recorded on film over several decades, which lends a comforting air of inevitability to his personal odyssey. Uplifting, warm, and sweet without being saccharine, Forrest Gump celebrates the human spirit with a sureness few contemporary films have ever achieved. The two-disc DVD Special Edition offers a whopping two hours of supplemental features, including a behind-the-scenes documentary on the film’s production; separate featurettes demonstrating the creation of makeup, sound, and visual effects; and photo galleries, screen tests, and theatrical trailers. Additionally, Zemeckis, producers Steve Starkey and Wendy Finerman, and production designer Rick Carter provide commentaries to accompany the film itself. Ed Hulse
Meet Forrest Gump, the lovable, hurculean, and surprisingly savy hero of this remarkable comic odyssey. After accidentally becoming the star of Univerity of Alabama’s football team, Forrest goes on to become a Vietnam War hero, a worl-class Ping-Pong player, a villainous wrestler, and a business tycoon—as he wonders with cildlike wisdome at the insanity all around him. In between misadentures, he manages to compare battle scars with Lyndon Johnson, discover the truth about Richard Nixon, and survive the ups and downs of remaining true to his only love, Jenny, on an extraordinary journey through three decades of the American cultural landscape. Forrest gump has one heck of a story to tell—and you’ve got to read it to believe it….