Friday, October 26, 2012

Peas and Carrots

Forrest Gump
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Sally Field, Gary Sinise
Released: July 6, 1994

Oscar nominations:
Best Picture (won)
Best Director - Robert Zemeckis (won)
Best Actor - Tom Hanks (won)
Best Supporting Actor - Gary Sinise (lost to Martin Landau for Ed Wood)
Best Adapted Screenplay - Eric Roth (won)
Best Cinematography (lost to Legends of the Fall)
Best Art Direction (lost to The Madness of King George)
Best Sound (lost to Speed)
Best Editing (won)
Best Sound Editing (lost to Speed)
Best Visual Effects (won)
Best Make-up (lost to Ed Wood)
Best Score - Alan Silvestri (lost to Hans Zimmer for The Lion King)

Ah, remember 1994? If you're a big movie buff then you know there were two big movies, both nominated for Best Picture Oscars that are adored by many a movie fan. They are (as if I even need to tell you!), of course, Pulp Fiction and The Shawkshank Redemption. I've only seen the former once, but I know it's a favorite among hardcore film aficionados, but the latter is in my top five favorite movies of all time and it's the movie I would have preferred to win the Oscar that year. A lot of people say it's overrated, but so are a lot of other movies I love and so is Forrest Gump. Oh, Forrest Gump, you two and a half hour film of historical documentation funfacts, sentimental love story between a lovable dim-witted guy and his beloved childhood friend, Jenny,  every #1 Billboard hit from three decades, and one of the most quotable movies ever....EVER? EVER!....I do not really much care for you, but I do understand the significance you hold in the place of every moviegoer's heart.

Even though I don't care for the movie, you can't help but like Forrest. Hell, the Academy loved him too as it gave Tom Hanks his second consecutive Oscar. Sure, there are actors who have won twice, but never twice in a row.

Jenny and Forrest...just like
peas and carrots! 
The movie is on the long side because it documents the life of Forrest Gump from childhood to adulthood. Who is Forrest Gump? He is a native of Alabama, born in the generation of the Baby Boomers with a less than average IQ, but he has witnessed/been part of some of the world's biggest events from his lifetime. (According to the movie, he's the reason Nixon got caught for Watergate).

The movie starts with Forrest sitting at a bus stop and telling a woman about his childhood and how he had to wear leg braces to straighten out his spine. As the movie progresses, we see different people sitting next to him on the bench as others get on their buses. Some of them are amused by his stories and some seem a little perplexed as some of his stories seem a little far fetched. I can't blame them as the man has met some pretty historical figures in his time: Elvis, John Lennon, Kennedy...

He's raised by his single mother (Sally Field) who tells him to never let other people think less of him. There's a sad scene of his first day of grade school and when he gets on the bus, nobody will sit with him except for a little blonde girl named Jenny who becomes Forrests' first real friend.

Forrest is given a scholarship to play football at the University of Alabama because the coach sees him running from bullies one day and is impressed by how fast he runs. After graduating, he enlists in the army and is a soldier in the Vietnam War. He meets a fellow soldier named Bubba who has a shrimping business back home and there's an amusing scene where Bubba tells Forrest all the different ways you can have shrimps...fried shrimp, coconut shrimp, shrimp scampi...he also meets Lieutenant Dan (Gary Sinise) who is angry at Forrest saving him because he lost both his legs and wanted to die with dignity.

His relationship with Jenny (the "peas" to his "carrots") is ongoing throughout the film. When he sees her kissing other guys, he gets jealous and when he sees her being hit by other guys, he gets angry and proceeds to beat them up. With failed attempts, he asks Jenny if he can be her boyfriend or marry her, but from growing up in an abusive household, Jenny doesn't think she is good enough to be with someone who will treat her well. They eventually get married later (but she eventually runs out on him) and the movie turns up its schmaltzy dial when Jenny is diagnosed with a terminal illness and dies. Don't worry, Forrest gets to say a final good-bye to her. She reveals to him that she has a son named Forrest Jr. and it takes Forrest a moment to get that it's his child. I totally forgot that young Forrest is played by Haley Joel Osment, five years before he would see dead people!

I would not be surprised if there were 100 different songs in this movie. I don't think there's ever a second where there isn't a top charting hit from either the '50s, '60s, or '70s playing. They'll play a minute of a song, then immediately go into another one. Most of the songs they play for a particular scene are pretty obvious ("For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield is played during the time spent in Vietnam. You say you don't know that song? Yes, you do, trust me.) Or they are too literal. During the whole time Forrest is running across the country, they play songs like "Running on Empty" by Jackson Brown and "You Can Go Your Own Way" by Fleetwood Mac. Get it? Because he's running and he's going his own way. But hey, at least most of the songs are pretty good.

People who grew up the same time around Forrest (like my parents) probably like this movie a bit more than their younger generation because they were around for all the political, socioeconomic, and pop culture events that Forrest himself lives through and experiences. Since I wasn't around for any of those decades, I can't relate to knowing what it's like to live during them. Give me a movie set in the '80s, '90s, and '00s and I will probably clap my hands in glee about all the stupid references I get. (Jellies! Slap bracelets! Sparkly butterfly hair clips!) And I think we can all agree that movie would have the best soundtrack ever! (Michael Jackson! Madonna! N'Sync! Eminem!) I really want to watch that movie now....

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