Posted by: bullyforme | October 19, 2009

Run, Forrest, Run!

I had my younger son and my nephew out at a restaurant the other night, one of those family style, chain restaurants with crap all over the walls that kids love so much, and I love because they’ve always got some kind of cheap deal. (Two entrees for $20, and an appetizer for free? Where do I sign?) We were sitting in the movie poster/celebrity photo wall section and my son spied a photo of Forrest Gump just beginning his big run. He looked at it and said, “That guy looks so retarded.” (Okay, so he’s not very politically correct, but he’s only 11). I said, “Well, actually, that guy really was what they called retarded.” Then I went on to briefly tell him about the movie and Hanks’ character. He was intrigued and asked me questions all the way home.


Who in this world hasn’t seen the movie “Forrest Gump?” Or, as it really was known on VHS boxes and movie posters everywhere, “Tom Hanks IS Forrest Gump.” I’m sure you’ve seen it, but when was the last time?

I remember the first time I viewed it, after catching just snippets of it here and there when my family would watch it on the VCR. I finally gave in and watched the whole damn thing, and of course, it was a wonderful movie…everything everyone ever said.

It was odd to think my boy didn’t know who Forrest Gump was. So the next night, I suggested we watch it together. It’d been years since I’d last seen it. My son jumped on the chance and was absolutely riveted to the movie, but had to stop and ask questions just about every 5 minutes. He is young and not that far ahead in history class nor old enough to have had experience with baby-boomer pop culture. I spent a great deal of the movie pausing it, and explaining things.

I pointed out or explained Elvis’ dance moves, JFK & RFK, Governor Wallace, Vietnam, the Black Panthers, Abbie Hoffman, Richard Nixon & Watergate and all the other historical references. I explained why Jenny got so messed up, the 70s, the advent of AIDS. The movie was truly a fantastic history lesson for my son.

He was so moved by the movie that he nearly cried a few times, but never did spill an actual tear. At the end he said to me in a husky, emotional voice, “Mom that was such a great and sad movie. I almost cried a few times!” I told him that when I first saw the movie, I cried about 20 times – and counted them off. I cried when Forrest outran the bullies and bonded with Jenny in the tree. I cried when Jenny prayed in the cornfield to be a bird and fly away from her father. I cried when Jenny left – the first, the second, and the third time. I cried when Bubba died. I cried when Mama died. I cried when Jenny died. I cried all through the damn movie, and yet it still gave me a happy feeling.

So I revisited the great movie “Forrest Gump” but it took on a whole new dimension for me by sharing it with my young son. He got a new hero (“I wish Forrest Gump was a real story!”) And he got the best history lesson of his life (so far).


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