Book Review

Book Review: Forrest Gump


How many times have you left a movie theater shaking your head and thinking, “Boy, the book sure was better than the movie!” That’s because books tend to take place in the character’s thoughts and emotions; movies, by their action.  Books packed with action or plot-driven books tend to make the best movies.

Most of the time, I agree with the idea that the book is better than the movie.  There was only one exception: The Princess Bride, which I thought was a far better movie, thanks especially to Mandy Patinkin’s dead-on portrayed of Inigo Montoya. No one will ever forget the infamous, “Halllo! My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father; prepare to die!” line thanks to the way Patinkin delivers it. One exception, that is, until I finished read Forrest Gump.

It’s the second time the movie is far superior to the book.

Actually, the movie resembles so little of the book…it’s amazing they even called it by the same name.

Did you love the movie? I love it. I watch it every time it’s on television. It’s on my list of favorite movies of all time.  Anytime I hear the song Freebird, I think of the scene where Jenny is on the balcony, ready to jump because of her misery.  Anytime I hear the songs from that movie, I picture the scene.  “Run, Forrest, run!” is another line, like “You killed my father; prepare to die” that people like to quote.

Unfortunately, it’s not in the book.

Nothing is in the book.

Wait.  There’s a guy named Forrest, a character named Bubba who  talks about shrimp, Jenny, and Lt. Dan.

And that’s about the size of it.

The book is told in the first person from Forrest’s point of you. None of the poignant childhood scenes from the movie are in the book. Instead, Jenny is just a casual friend he has a crush on and goes to a movie with. No school bus, no life is like a box of chocolates. Forrest gets drafted, goes to Vietnam, meets Bubba, but he meets Lt. Dan in the hospital. And Lt. Dan is a mild mannered guy who lies on his hospital bed stoically philosophizing about life.

I could go on and on, but you get the drift.  This book is like a fairy tale or a tall tale; it’s not meant to be ready literally. It reminds me of 100 Days of Solitude or Like Water for Chocolate with the surrealism elements in it.  Neither are favorites of mine, so perhaps that’s why I didn’t like this book very much.  I was also expecting something like the movie. Maybe that’s expecting too much. I knew that many of the plot elements would change. That’s just the nature of books made into movies. Often they can’t follow the exact plot, or include your favorite scenes or characters, and I’ve sort of grown to expect that.  But this was an amazing feat; a movie that barely resembled the book.

Made me wonder who the author knew in Hollywood just to get the movie made, because if I read that book first, the last thing on my mind would have been, “Hey! Yeah! Let’s make a movie outta this!”

Forrest Gump. Skip the book. Adore the movie.

And that’s all I have to say about that.


2 thoughts on “Book Review: Forrest Gump”

  1. I believe everyone has a right to their opinion about films or other topics. However from a lot of the comments I have read about this film, I do not think many got the gist of the message from the author and the film maker. This film is a great modern fable, a fable in the dictionary is defined as a brief fictitious story that teaches a moral. There are many morals defined in this film but foremost is integrity and a simple goodness.

    I have a half brother who grew up in the Southern U.S. and on one occasion we were discussing this film and he said he felt it portrayed Southerners as dimwitted. I disagreed with him and informed him that the author himself was a native Southerner. The setting is central to this story in that it lets the tale unfold tying in factual events with the fable before us.

    The film is wonderfully directed by Robert Zemeckis, the film is his opus and is acted by a great cast on all levels. From the children who were Forrest Gump and Gump Jr. by Haley Joel Osment. Say what you want but I feel Tom Hanks deserved the Oscar award. Gary Sinise is synonymous with Lt.Dan whenever you hear those words. Sally Fields is the loving dutiful mother in her challenging situation. Mykelti Williamson as Bubba gives you a real sense in the story that Gump had a genuine friend, he moves you with his character. Words don’t grasp the full performance of Robin Wright Penn as Jenny. Jennys’ tenderness and pain are palpable as exhibited by Wright.

    I feel that much of Gumps’ appeal is his downright sense of doing the right thing regardless of the people and situations around him and we see that in this film. That being the case maybe we all wish we could be just a little more like that, trying to maintain innate goodness and not the trade-offs we often make as we go down lifes highways.

    The movie has it all too,drama,comedy and it challenges societal norms as well. Then there are the almost endless quotes from the movie that have slipped into everyday speech. They are too numerous to say at this point.One of the toppers for me in the movie is when Forrest is in a quandary about life and wondering as Lt.Dan said we all have a destiny and his Mom says it is where we are all just floating around like a feather in the wind. Forrest’s character terms it very well with this quote,”I think it is a little bit of both.” From my experiences in life it does appear to be that way. So if you have not seen the movie,see it soon you are in for a real treat. If you did not like it, give it a try again and hopefully you will see it for the great story it is!

    More about the movie and Tom Hanks you can also find it here

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