If there’s one lesson to be learned from Forrest Gump, it’s that if a man offers you a chocolate while sitting on a bench waiting for the bus: take it. You’re likely to hear an amazing life story.
Set against a spectacular soundtrack, Forrest Gump tells the story of a simple, but kind, man from Greenbow, Alabama, as he tells stories from his life to anyone who will listen while sitting at a bus stop. Forrest (Tom Hanks), though borderline mentally-disabled, sees the good in everyone, and his story intersects key moments in American history through the 60s and 70s.
Raised by his single mother (Sally Field), Forrest has deformities that require him to wear braces on his legs. Kids pick on him, and constantly having to run away from kids while wearing leg braces makes him exceptionally fast once the braces come off.
When he gets on the bus and is repeatedly told, "seat’s taken," he’s saved by the only kid who was nice to him, his neighbor and lifelong love, Jenny. The two of them went together like peas and carrots. It’s Jenny that screams, "Run, Forrest, Run," putting that line forever into our pop culture.
Forrest eventually goes to Alabama on a football scholarship, witnessing George Wallace’s Stand in the Schoolhouse Door. His accomplishments as a football player earn him a trip to the White House, where he meets President John F. Kennedy. He is sent to fight in Vietnam, where he meets Bubba (Mykelti Williamson), who is killed in action, and Lieutenant Dan (Gary Sinise), who Forrest rescues after their platoon is ambushed. He wins the Medal of Honor, and when he is meeting with President Lyndon B. Johnson, he shows him where he was shot — right in the buttocks.
He becomes a ping pong superstar, going on a goodwill tour of China. After the tour, he is invited to the White House by President Richard Nixon. While there, he inadvertently uncovers the Watergate Scandal. He buys a shrimp boat to fulfill a wartime promise to Bubba. Double-amputee Lieutenant Dan works with him on the boat, and they become wealthy when Dan uses Bubba Gump Shrimp profits to buy stock in Apple.
Jenny (Robin Wright) — a victim of child abuse who has led a tough life filled with drugs, sex and rock and roll — returns to visit Forrest. They sleep together, but she runs off before morning. Upset, Forrest decides to go for a run. And he just kept running, and running, and running, eventually going on a three-year-long, cross-country run. After finally deciding to stop and go home, he receives a letter from Jenny. The two meet, and she announces that they have a son, Forrest, Jr (Haley Joel Osment). Forrest finally gets to marry the woman he’s loved all his life, but instead of living happily ever after, she dies from AIDS.
The movie is also sprinkled with Forrest putting his mark on American culture. A young Forrest in braces teaches dance moves to a man boarding in his mother’s house who turns out to be Elvis Presley. While on the Dick Cavett show together, Forrest helps inspire John Lennon’s Imagine.
Aside from being ridiculously quotable, Forrest Gump looked ridiculously believable. With the help of blue screens, CGI and voice imitators, you believed that Forrest really met and shook hands with Kennedy, Nixon and Johnson. It looked real as he sat on a couch holding a conversation with John Cavett and John Lennon.
Tom Hanks earned his second straight Academy Award for playing Forrest, a role originally offered to John Travolta.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
Watch the trailer for Forrest Gump.