My Favorite Characters: Forrest Gump

phillysports
There are typically two kinds of dumb characters in fiction. There are dumb characters who seem to be unaware of their stupidity, and as a result, put themselves and other people in danger. In many cases for these characters, they think that they are much smarter than they really are, causing them to come off as irritating and annoying to the audience. Examples of this type of character include pretty much every character in Family Guy and Patrick Star in the later seasons of SpongeBob SquarePants. On the other end of the spectrum, there are dumb characters who are knowledgeable to the fact that they're not the smartest people on the planet. They try to make the best out of their limited mental capabilities and view the world in a sense of blind optimism. As a result, they're generally well-liked and defended by their colleagues as well as the audience that watches them. Examples of this include Brick Tamland in Anchorman, Soos Ramirez in Gravity Falls, and of course, Forrest Gump.

Forrest Gump was a man born with very little in life. His father walked out on his family when he was young, his legs did not fully develop until halfway through his childhood, and he always had a below average intelligence that caused him to be routinely picked on. Despite all of the things in his life that went against him, Forrest always managed to get through with a positive outlook on things and didn't have a mean bone in his body. As someone who was not so knowledgeable of the world around him, the impact that he had on history reached more far than he could imagine. He was an All-American football player, a war hero, a champion Ping Pong player, a shrimp boat captain, and a national running ceremony, but he never let any of the fame get to his head, because he was just doing what he felt like.

Forrest Gump is a simple human being with simple values of kindness and sincerity that was thrust into many world events that he had no clue of the weight of. There's an argument to be made that Forrest is not dynamic as a character because he doesn't change over the course of the film, but with Forrest's straightforward sincerity and lovable nature, he never let the harshness and cruelty of the world get to him. Whether that be entering a business with a man he just met and giving half of his earnings to him after his death or restoring the faith and kindness in the heart of a man who went through his own personal Hell, he treated every situation and every person with the same amount of love in his heart. Forrest's naïve and blissful nature often prevented him from noticing the impact he had on other people. And that, in my opinion, makes him such an endearing character. He's a person who's not been gifted with the intelligence of other people, but manages to turn lemon into lemonade by being resourceful to every one he meets.

The main reason why I love Forrest Gump so much as a character is due to Tom Hanks' incredible performance. Tom Hanks is by far my favorite actor in history. From what I've seen, the man has never given a sub-par performance in his entire career. Each of his roles feel 100% genuine, and when I watch him in a movie, I instantly believe that he's a completely separate human being. Out of all his fantastic performances (Big, A League of Their Own, Philadelphia, Toy Story, Saving Private Ryan, The Green Mile, Toy Story 2, Cast Away, Road to Perdition, Catch Me if You Can, The Terminal, Toy Story 3, Captain Phillips, Saving Mr. Banks, Bridge of Spies, and The Post to just name a few), his performance as Forrest Gump is his finest in my opinion. His facial expressions and vocal inflections throughout the film are so life-like, and his innocent nature makes him so charming. His chemistry with Robin Wright is also incredible. Forrest and Jenny do not even feel like they're fictional characters in a Hollywood movie. Their romance is probably my favorite romance in any form of media. Whenever I watch Forrest Gump, it's almost like I'm watching a documentary of a real person's life. That's how authentic Hanks makes his character feel. The two scenes that get me the most are the moment when Jenny tells him that he has a son. The look in his eyes alone makes that one of the most well-acted scenes in film history. The other moment is when he's standing over Jenny's grave and talking to her. In my eyes, Hanks is not pretending to talk to his wife after she's passed away. He's standing over his real wife's grave, telling her about how their son is growing up, how much he misses her, and that he will always be there for her forever. It's very powerful, heartbreaking, yet heartwarming stuff. The moments that hit me the most are the moments that are both very happy and very sad at the same time. The character of Forrest Gump is filled with both of those extremes, and that's why I believe Hanks' performance is one of the Top 5 greatest movie performances ever given and the movie is a cinematic masterpiece.

Forrest Gump as a character can be summarized by the two most famous life he has in the film:

"My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

Forrest was a man who lived a life that nobody would have expected him to live. He was gifted with incredible opportunities and yet everybody he got close to ended up going through pain and misfortune. His mother, his best friend, his drill sergeant, and ultimately his childhood love. Forrest always knew that bad things happen to people every day, but he figured that the best way to deal with the anger and sorrow of the world was to not lie to himself and treat everyone the same way that he wish he was treated. He's a man that was given a batch of lemons and made the sweetest lemonade imaginable. His story is such an inspiration to me.

"I'm not a smart man, but I know what love is."

Forrest was never an intelligent person, but he worked to make sure that his mental deficiencies didn't slow him down in his life. He treated everyone fairly with love and admiration only for a lot of them to dismiss him and shut him out. With what little he was given, he managed to look on the bright side of things and wanted nothing but the simplest goal of the love of his childhood friend. Such a simple line speaks volumes to how simple yet complex of a character Forrest is.

The film Forrest Gump is nothing short of a masterpiece in my eyes. It was my favorite film for many years until it was eclipsed by Inside Out after four or five viewings. The titular character is such an intriguing yet lovable personality that feels as authentic as any movie character I have ever had the pleasure of viewing. Forrest is an inspirational character that goes to prove that anybody can make something of themselves despite not knowing what that something is. As lovably dimwitted as he is complex and entertaining, Forrest Gump is definitely one of my favorite movie characters in history.

Comments

Good review, but are you going to make another one of these in the future? - iliekpiez

Yeah. I've just been horribly lazy with the posts over the past few months. - phillysports

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