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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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?
- In theaters: July 6, 1994
- On DVD or streaming: September 30, 2014
- Cast: Robin Wright, Sally Field, Tom Hanks
- Director: Robert Zemeckis
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book characters, History, Misfits and underdogs
- Character strengths: Gratitude, Integrity, Perseverance
- Run time: 135 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: drug content, sensuality and war violence
- Awards/Honors: Academy Award, Golden Globe
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.