Forrest Gump

Movie review by
Michael Scheinfeld, Common Sense Media
Forrest Gump Movie Poster Image
Moving and wonderful, but parent preview a good idea.
  • PG-13
  • 1994
  • 135 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 34 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 169 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie stresses the importance of family, friendship, and loyalty. Some historic events and figures are questioned but generally not in too much detail. Serious issues like child abuse and war are addressed. Other major themes include gratitude, integrity, and perseverance.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Forrest, through his extreme naivety and big heart, seems to bring out the best in people. He stumbles into much of his good luck serendipitously, but he also works hard and devotes himself to whatever he's focused on. Other characters have more complex motivations and back stories -- and sometimes fall victim to their own personal demons -- but Forrest helps keep them pointed in the right direction.

Violence

Young Forrest has rocks thrown at him by some bullies; Forrest is repeatedly insulted throughout his life. There are also some fistfights and explosive/bloody Vietnam War combat scenes. The scene in which young Jenny hides from her abusive father is disturbing, as are a couple of major characters' deaths. Historical events discussed/alluded to include assassinations.

Sex

Jenny works as a stripper at one point. Some foreplay (including a scene in which Forrest puts his hand on Jenny's breast while her roommate is in the room; naked back is seen), kissing/groping, scantily clad women, and a non-explicit scene in which two adult characters make love. Characters look at a pornographic magazine, but no nude pictures are shown in detail. A child overhears the sounds of two adults having sex.

Language

Language includes "s--t," "f--k" (a couple of times), "goddamn," "ass," and more, as well as insults like "stupid" and "idiot."

Consumerism

Some brand names (like Apple computers) are mentioned, but generally within a specific historic/cultural context.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A central character takes lots of drugs during one part of the movie, with cocaine visible. Other characters drink, sometimes to numb pain/anger.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that although Forrest Gump's strong language ("s--t," "f--k," and more), violence (including some bloody/explosive Vietnam War scenes and the implication of child abuse), and sexual situations (foreplay, kissing, implied sex, and more) make it questionable for young kids, its ultimately positive messages and entertaining take on three decades of American history make it a fine choice for families with teens. Parents may want to preview the movie for its realistic treatment of serious issues like abuse, the Civil Rights movement, drugs, and war.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBrown Norway August 11, 2014

skip the sex scenes

My 12 year old daughter liked this movie alot and found it funny and heart warming. I had forgotten how much sex is in this, between troubled Jenny, porn magazi... Continue reading
Adult Written byMal1960 July 4, 2009

A great movie, but not for young teens

What the Common Sense review does not mention is an early scene in which Forrest's mother has sex with the school principal to get Forrest into public scho... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bywhyhellomister144 February 23, 2010

Perfect for all/most teens....fantastic overall :)

Okay, I'm going to start on a positive note; this is one of the GREATEST movies of the '90s, maybe of all time :) Everything about it is great; I don... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old January 9, 2011

Forrest Gump

I loved this movie when I saw it for the first time with my 11 year old cousin and her friends, but I had some concerns. Morgane (my cousin) is the type who ask... Continue reading

What's the story?

FORREST GUMP's two and a half hours run the gamut from humor and charm to tragedy and poignancy. Although epic in length and symbolic in treatment, the movie never loses sight of the intimate love story at its center. The relationship between the childlike Forrest (Tom Hanks) and the disillusioned Jenny (Robin Wright) can be seen as an allegory for America's loss of innocence from the 1950s to the 1980s, reflected by pop culture and socio-political events. Rock and roll, the civil rights movement, Vietnam, Watergate, and more are touched on, sometimes seriously and sometimes satirically.

Is it any good?

This film is "like a box of chocolates ... you never know what you're gonna get" as it serves up an abundance of surprising treats, sometimes sweet and sometimes bitter. Though its strong language, violence, and sexual situations make it questionable for children, Forrest Gump can introduce young viewers to prominent moments in the 20th century. Through the use of Oscar-winning visual effects, Forrest interacts with U.S. presidents, teaches Elvis Presley how to do his famous "pelvis dance," and inspires John Lennon to write the song "Imagine."

The encounters sometimes border on the absurd, but they're anchored by Hanks' extraordinary, Oscar-winning performance. He makes the slow-witted Forrest a sympathetic and believable character instead of a stereotyped simpleton. Superb acting by the entire cast, especially Wright as Jenny and Gary Sinise as Forrest's army lieutenant, add substance to this sentimental tearjerker.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about American history and how it's seen through Forrest Gump's eyes. What are his impressions of the Vietnam War? Of a young Elvis? Of the hippie movement?

  • What would you say Forrest Gump's main message is? Are viewers meant to admire Forrest? To sympathize with him?

  • If you've read the book the movie is based on, how do the two differ? Why do you think the filmmakers made the changes that they did?

  • How do the characters in Forrest Gump demonstrate integrity, perseverance, and gratitude? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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