#50 | Forrest Gump 2: Jenny’s Side
Listen to our Forrest Gump episode on:
This was a very special week for Beyond The Box Set. Not only did we hit the Episode 50 milestone, but we’re also publishing on the exact one year anniversary of our show going live. So we thought we’d mark the occasion by dedicating an episode to Harry’s all-time favourite film, the multi-Oscar winning modern American fairytale Forrest Gump.
Directed by Robert Zemeckis and adapted from the novel by Winston Groom, Forrest Gump was the highest-grossing film of 1994 in the USA (narrowly beating out The Lion King), and gave actor Tom Hanks the defining role of his career. At time of writing it sits at #12 on the highest rated movies of all time at IMDB.com, and is widely recognised for its innovative use of CGI.
Beyond all that though, Forrest Gump is just one of those rare movies that everyone has seen – and if you haven’t, it’s probably because you’re one of those people who feels like they’re making some kind of point by actively avoiding it. It’s far from universally beloved of course, and these days it’s easy to be cynical about the movie’s cheerful commercialism and optimistic All American sentimentality, but watching it back, it’s surprising how well the film actually holds up.
Much of that credit has to go to Hanks, who manages to give real heart and soul to a character who could easily have been an intolerable caricature. It’s almost impossible to imagine John Travolta, Bill Murray or Chevy Chase – all of whom allegedly turned down the role – making the character half as lovable. However, the script and direction also go a long way towards papering over any potential stumbling blocks. You think about this film in terms of its most memorable scenes, but when you sit down and watch, you realise that it’s all memorable scenes. For a film that runs clear of two hours, there’s a surprisingly low incidence of filler.
One element of the film that sharply divides people is the character of Jenny. As played by a young Robin Wright, Forrest’s troubled love interest may be one of the most maligned modern screen figures of all time who isn’t being portrayed as a flat-out villain. Some see her constant abandonment of Forrest as the behaviour of a selfish character who doesn’t deserve his quiet lifelong devotion. Others see the film’s treatment of Jenny as conservative and misogynistic, punishing her for being a free spirited liberal by striking her down with one of those mysterious symptom-free wasting diseases Hollywood used to be so fond of.
You’ll have to tune into the episode to hear our take on the Jenny question, but suffice to say we both agreed that the film paints a more complex picture of her relationship with Forrest than many people give Zemeckis credit for. We also talk about the other woman in Forrest Gump’s life, Sally Field’s oft-quoted Mama Gump, specifically the occasional hints at her darker side that we’d completely missed on previous viewings.
Our usual features are also present and correct, including the Forrest Gump drinking game – have your shots lined up for every unnecessarily shirtless Lieutenant Dan scene – and of course our own fantasy sequel ideas, which this week go deeper into the Jenny story and continue Forrest’s adventures through the plots of some other notable Tom Hanks vehicles.
Last but not least, we’re excited to announce the launch of our Beyond The Box Set Patreon page. For as little as $2 per month, you can gain access to our weekly bonus minisode, Beyond BTBS, get a 30 second ad-spot for your podcast, product or personal brand, and choose the subject of a future episode of our show. We might even make you a character in one of our sequels…
We’re also now selling Beyond The Box Set merchandise exclusively through Teepublic.com, including T-shirts, Mugs and assorted accessories featuring some of our most memorable quotes. If there’s anything you’d like to see, drop us a line and we’ll do our best to add it to our catalogue.
If you like the show, as always, the best way to support us is to hit subscribe and share some love with an iTunes review. You can find the show on most Podcasting apps using the links at the top of this blog, and you can also reach out to us personally via our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, or by leaving a comment under this blog.
Next week, another very special guest joins us to discuss a quirky cult classic of the 80s and to deliver the first ever live acoustic performance of our celebrated theme tune. Until then, thanks for all the support during our first year on the air, and stick with us – we have plenty of dodgy sequel ideas in us yet…