I watch a lot of movies. I like about 20% of them, but only 5% really stick and leave a lasting impression. Once I tried to make a top 5 list of my favorite movies, and it was so hard that I dropped the project before I could narrow down the top 20 movies I came up with.
But the moment I saw Forrest Gump in 2009 (15 years after its release), I knew I had my new favorite movie, and I bet it stays that way for a very long time. Naturally, it’s a book adaptation and according to a friend of mine the book (by Winston Groom) is quite amusing.
Now, let’s see what elements really made a difference in Forrest Gump.
Tom Hanks is one of my all-time favorite actors. He didn’t just play the star-struck lover of Meg Ryan in the 90’s. He also played in The Terminal (2004) where he is a stranded tourist living on an airport, waiting for a war in his home country to subside, and in Cast Away (2000) where his only friend on a stranded island was a volleyball named Wilson. Most importantly, he’ll be remembered for being Forrest Gump, a young man with low I.Q. and great heart, who lived not one, but many lives in his lifetime. From accent to decorum, Hanks achieved perfection.
Robin Wright was equally adept at her part as Jenny, Forrest’s childhood friend and future wife. The supporting characters did the film justice as well. Lt. Dan and Forrest’s mom brought their own wisdom to the mix and made the film the cinematic equivalent of chicken soup for the soul. Those were real people on the screen. So real.
2. Special love story.
Forrest and Jenny were partners from the day they met in that school bus. They spent their whole life together and apart, and yet they always ended up finding each other, because Forrest only ever loved Jenny and Jenny only ever trusted Forrest. It's one of those stories that make you go 'aww' during the whole movie, NOT just the end.
Remember, those are rare.
Forrest Gump is a film riddled in strong lessons for life. But the most important one was presented in the form of the most memorable quote in the movie: “Stupid is as stupid does.”
While we’re busy talking, complaining, and planning our lives, Forrest was busy living his. He never turned on a promise and he took life one moment at a time. He gave his 100% to everything he did because he was unencumbered by everyday worries and fears of failure. In his mind, he was doing what his mama had taught him to do by saying: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Toward the end of his lifetime, he had more stories to tell than the average person. He’d been a ping pong champion, a shrimp boat captain, gotten the Medal of Honor, met several presidents, ran across the USA, and come up with several well-known catch phrases, brands, and dance signatures in history.
And finally, he got to spend the rest of his life with the One.
Although it’s kind of embarrassing to admit, I want to cry at the end of a movie (be it tears of joy or grief), unless it’s comedy or action. I want to be emotionally shaken and stunned at the resolution at the end. (I think this goes back to my deepest drive to live by extremes.)
And when--years after sleeping with his lifelong love--Forrest learned about his son, something amazing happened. This impervious man was brought down to tears asking the big question: is he smart or is he…? His whole life, Forrest stood up to people who called him stupid, but now he was terrified of having brought the same fate upon his offspring.
(I cry even just thinking about that scene.)
Run, Forrest, RUN!
... and the others I just mentioned.
... and the others I just mentioned.
So if you’ve seen it once, go watch it again. If you haven’t… I’m sorry for spoiling it for you. Now go see it multiple times. It’s a sure fast recipe to get inspired. And remember…
You’re only as stupid as your actions.