It’s strange to feel sheepish about loving a film that won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture—a critical and commercial smash that earned nearly $700 million at the global box office and has been chosen for preservation in the National Film Archive.
And yet: Exactly two decades after its release, calling Forrest Gump one of your favorite movies is an act bound to raise eyebrows, provided you’re talking to anyone who fancies herself a film buff. Most anti-Gumpers resent the movie more for what it isn’t than what it is; as they’ll be the first to remind you, Robert Zemeckis’s film bested Pulp Fiction, now widely regarded as the movie most deserving of the top prize at the 67th Annual Academy Awards. (The Shawshank Redemption also has its partisans, though they’re a less vocal minority.) More passionate haters will attack the movie itself, calling Gump mawkishly melodramatic, aggressively uncool, an elaborate production designed to pander to a certain demographic’s documented historical vanity.
There is only one thing I can say about
the war in Vietnam these joyless jerks: Yeah. So?
We unapologetic Forrest folk love Zemeckis’s movie for precisely the same reasons its detractors despise it—its delightfully contrived story, its naked sentimentality, Tom Hanks’s wide-eyed performance, which invites parody even as it inspires sympathy. Nearly every line is sharp and polished enough to stick in your mind like a particularly catchy song lyric; nearly every music cue is perfectly on the nose. (Seriously, Baby Boomer Santa must have been the soundtrack’s supervisor.) Call it hokey if you will—but I prefer timeless.
The movie’s best quality, though, may be its surprising density: There’s enough going on in Gump to make it perfect rewatch fodder, and each time you see it, you’re likely to come away with a new favorite part. And I’m not just talking about the marquee moments that have entered Greatest Movie Catchphrase territory (“Life is like a box of chocolates,” “I may not be a smart man, but I know what love is,” “Run, Forrest, run!”). So in celebration of Forrest’s 20th anniversary, let’s run down 10 of the movie’s undersung gems. Sure, maybe none of them is cool enough to decorate your freshman dorm room—but you know what? That’s okay. Sometimes, there just aren’t enough rocks.
10. “She taught me how to climb. I showed her how to dangle!”
9. The less-than-great quality of the John Lennon scene, featuring words that don’t match Remastered Lennon’s lip movements and a vocal impersonator who kinda sounds like Wakko Warner. It is still great.
8. Forrest: “Lieutenant Dan, what are you doing here?” Lieutenant Dan: “I’m here to try out my sea legs.” Forrest: “But you ain’t got no legs, Lieutenant Dan.”
7. “I musta drank me about 15 Dr. Peppers.”
6. President Johnson: “Where were you hit?” Forrest: “In the buttocks, sir.” Bonus points for the excellent use of “Mrs. Robinson.”
5. The honest puzzlement in Forrest’s voice when his pal doesn’t want a frozen treat: “Lieutenant Dan! Ice cream!”
4. “Sorry I had a fight in the middle of your Black Panther party.” Saying this is the only proper way to leave a group gathering.
3. The pan over to Jenny’s horrified roommate after Forrest comes to her dorm room.
2. Anything involving Forrest and the drill sergeant: “Goddamnit, Gump! You’re a goddamn genius! This is the most outstanding answer I have ever heard. You must have a goddamn I.Q. of 160.”
1. “You know what I think? I think you should go home to Greenbow AlaBAMA!”