This 1994 multi-Oscar winning comedy-drama, starring Tom Hanks as lowly southern boy Forrest Gump, was a huge box-office hit, taking $329.7 million at the US box office alone. But surprisingly for such a popular success, it wasn't a straight-forward movie and had a highly ambiguous theme.
Was it a celebration of wholesome individualism or a mandate for outlawing pacifism and promiscuity? Even Hanks, who won his second successive Oscar for playing the superstar simpleton, said, "I'm still damned if I can figure out what it is." Yet the plot remains enjoyable, thanks to superb special effects (placing Forrest with several presidents), Hanks's likable performance and director Robert Zemeckis's instinct for manipulation.
At a bus stop in the Deep South, Forrest Gump (Hanks) recounts his role as witness to many of the century's key moments. As a child in calipers and with no educational talent, he is cherished by his mother (Sally Field) and has one friend, his classmate Jenny. He's also persecuted by bullies, but the constant attention has one favourable result: it makes him an athletic runner.
Next, he enlists for the Vietnam War and is stationed with Bubba (Mykelti Williamson), a fellow Alabaman, and their patrol leader Lt Dan Taylor (Gary Sinise). When the unit is attacked, Gump tries to save everyone, but Bubba dies, and the lieutenant loses his legs.
While convalescing, Forrest discovers a talent for ping-pong, and starts a new career, accidentally joining the peace movement - and briefly reuniting with Jenny (Robin Wright Penn) - along the way. Forrest's fortunes rise and fall as time goes by, but he has only one ambition: to live with Jenny and settle down...