BP’s Top 100 Movie List Challenge #93: Forrest Gump, by Sarah Brinks
I decided to undertake a movie challenge in 2017. This seemed like a good way to see some classic movies that I have tragically never seen. The Battleship Pretension Top 100 list has a good number of films I hadn’t seen before so it is a good source for my challenge.
I was a little surprised to see Forrest Gump on this list initially. Then I thought about it and after watching the film again I realized how much Forrest Gump is a part of our share pop culture memory. For example, I have eaten at a “Bubba Gump Shrimp” restaurant, we’ve all shouted “run Forrest, run”, and even said “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get”. It has been endlessly spoofed from Weird Al to Tropic Thunder. So maybe that is why it belongs on this list. In rewatching Forrest Gump I remembered how sweeping and emotional a story it is. Even though I have seen Forrest Gump probably a dozen times I was brought to tears again watching it.
I think I feel a little conflicted about Forrest Gump, it is at its heart a story about overcoming adversity and following your heart but it is also a not a very sophisticated view of a person with special needs. The fact the Forrest is able to be a star athlete, a decorated soldier, and own a million dollar shrimping business is coincidental rather than intentional. Tom Hanks’ academy award winning performance as Forrest is sweet and well-intentioned, which helps ease some of the more difficult moments. Like the moment when he first learns that he has son and he asks if he is smart, is so genuine and heart-felt (and yes the moment when I started crying).
Watching it again I remembered how gimmicky it was at times. All the times that they put Forrest into historical footage always feel a little clunky and at times pulled me out of the story but they aren’t so bad that they ruin the film. Robert Zemeckis directed the film and won an Oscar for it and he loves putting gimmicks, trick photography, and special effects in his films (look no further than Polar Express). Despite some of the more clunky moments the film is a lot of fun to watch and maintains a great sense of humor throughout.
I had also forgotten how great some of the performances are. I am an unapologetic Tom Hanks fan, I love basically everything he does and Forrest Gump is no exception. Hanks brings such a sense of sweet naiveté to Forrest that you really believe strangers would be pulled into his story enough to ignore their busses. Robin Wright plays Jenny, the love of Forrest’s life. I like how Jenny is a foil to Forrest. While he is fighting in Vietnam she joins the hippy movement to fight the war. Forrest fulfills his promise to Bubba and starts a shrimping business while she is Hollywood getting high and being frivolous. But she always finds her way back to him and ultimately realizes that he is the right thing for her. Wright is so beautiful and broken in the film that you understand why Forrest not only loves her but wants to rescue her. The performance I had forgotten was Sally Field as Mama. As always Field brings commitment and passion to her role and she is great as the protective but empowering mother of a special needs child. She never allows Forrest to feel different or not of value and she is the mold that forms the amazing man that is Forrest Gump.
I am really glad I had a chance to rewatch Forrest Gump and even though parts of the film have not aged as well as others it is a really good film that is deserving of a place on the Battleship Pretension Top 100 Movies list.
I’ve decided to rate each film using an arbitrary scale based on the board game Battleship (lowest: Destroyer, Submarine, Cruiser, Battleship, highest: Carrier)
Forrest Gump ranking: Battleship