Want more recommendations for your family?
Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Stresses importance of family, friendship, and loyalty. Serious issues like child abuse and war are addressed. Other major themes include gratitude, integrity, and perseverance.
Positive Role Models
Forrest, through his 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 backstories, but Forrest helps keep them pointed in the right direction.
Forrest's friends Bubba and Lt. Dan Taylor are Black and disabled, respectively, each positive but with stereotypical traits (Bubba's actor wore a prosthetic to have a bigger lower lip; the wheelchair-using veteran is implied to be self-destructive with suicidal ideation). Jenny often needs to be rescued by Forrest and isn't given much agency. As a child, Forrest is "miraculously" healed from a spine illness; the scene of him shedding his leg braces as he sets off into a run is ableist.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
Other kids taunt and throw rocks at young Forrest; he's insulted throughout his life for having a low IQ score. 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. Serious wounds from war. Implied sexual abuse of children. Historical events discussed or alluded to include assassinations. It's implied that characters have suicidal ideation.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Jenny works as an adult performer at one point, playing guitar naked (she's covered by the instrument from the front, but you can see her nude from the back). Foreplay includes Forrest putting his hand on a woman's breast while her roommate is in the room (the outline of her breast and her naked backside are seen). Kissing/groping, women in their underwear. Lt. Dan and Forrest are seen shirtless, and adults have sex in a non-explicit scene. Characters look at a pornographic magazine, but no nude pictures are shown in detail. A child overhears the sounds of two adults having sex.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Language includes "s--t," "f--k" (a couple of times), "goddamn," "ass," and more, as well as insults like the "N" word, "stupid," and "idiot."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Brand names (like Apple) are mentioned, but generally within a specific historical/cultural context.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A central character takes lots of drugs during one part of the movie, with cocaine, bongs, pill bottles, needles, and pipes visible. Other characters drink and smoke cigarettes.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Forrest Gump is an Oscar-winning film by Robert Zemeckis (based on the novel by Winston Groom) that follows the title character (Tom Hanks) through his brushes with important people and moments in U.S. history. Expect strong language ("s--t," "f--k," and more), violence (including bloody/explosive Vietnam War scenes and child abuse), and drug use (cocaine is seen, and characters drink and smoke cigarettes). There are sexual situations (foreplay, kissing, implied sex, the outline of a breast and a backside, and more) but nothing explicit. Despite the mature content, its positive messages and entertaining take on modern American history make it a fine choice for families with teens. Black and disabled characters are featured in a positive light, but they also perpetuate stereotypes. Women, especially Forrest's love, Jenny (Robin Wright), are given no agency. Parents may want to preview the movie for its treatment of serious topics like abuse, the civil rights movement, drugs, and war. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This film serves up an abundance of surprising treats, sometimes sweet and sometimes bitter. Though its strong language, violence, and sexual situations make it iffy for young children, Forrest Gump can introduce teens to prominent moments in 20th century United States. Through the use of Oscar-winning visual effects, Forrest interacts with U.S. presidents, accidentally uncovers the Watergate scandal, and inspires John Lennon to write the song "Imagine." Although mostly witty, the film's tongue-in-cheek rewriting of major U.S. events often erases the contributions of Black Americans, such as attributing Elvis Presley's famous "pelvis dance" to Forrest, rather than to the Black musicians that Elvis was inspired by in real life.
The encounters sometimes border on the absurd, but they're anchored by Hanks' extraordinary performance. He makes Forrest a sympathetic character instead of a stereotype of someone with a learning disability. Superb acting by the entire cast, especially Wright as Jenny and Gary Sinise as Forrest's Army lieutenant, adds substance to this sentimental tearjerker.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.