Stars: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, Sally Field, Michael Humphreys, Hanna Hall. Written by Eric Roth. Directed by Robert Zemeckis. Rated PG-13 for profanity, adult themes.

Robert Zemeckis, the director of such films as "Back to the Future", "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" and "Death Becomes Her", took on no less wacky a project when he decided to helm the outwardly mundane "Forrest Gump". The screenplay, based on the novel of the same name by Winston Groom, is about a slow-witted Southerner who inadvertently lives a notable life without fully realizing it. The film has the kind of off-kilter charm to it that has been seen, in varying degrees, in Zemeckis' other films.

Forrest Gump (Michael Humphreys) was born with a muscle disorder that limited the mobility of his legs. Because he wore braces on them, he was often the source of ridicule as a boy. It was during these awkward years that he first met the girl who would turn out to be the love of his life, Jenny Curran (Hanna Hall). Inseparable as kids, Forrest and Jenny did everything together, but when the bullies would come to pick on him, she always told him to run away as fast as he could. Naturally, he wasn't terribly quick in the leg braces, but one day as he was running they just fell right off of him. The doctors had told him it would never be so, but Forrest never wore the braces again. In fact, he made it a point to run just about everywhere he was going.

This wasn't the only extraordinary event in Forrest's (Tom Hanks) life. Through the course of several years he became a star football player for a collegiate team, a war hero who had saved several lives and a ping-pong player so renowned that he couldn't turn around without running into another endorsement offer. He also garnered chances to meet Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon and may have even had a hand in bringing about the downfall of Tricky Dick while staying at the Watergate. As more years passed by he became a multi- millionaire, first by owning his own shrimping business and later by investing in a "fruit" company that actually sold computers (Apple).

But nothing in his life mattered much to him except the people around him. His Mama (Sally Field) was always a source of strength for him and gave him a sense of worth while those around him called him stupid. Then there was Bubba (Mykelti Williamson) and Lieutenant Dan (Gary Sinise), fellow soldiers for whom Forrest felt a deep friendship. And of course there was Jenny. Their lives diverged sometime in their teens and only occasional would they cross paths again. But Forrest never stopped loving her and wanted desperately to protect her from the people around her.

Although bittersweet, "Forrest Gump" is a memorable film filled with subtleties. It's also filled with the occasional jaw-dropping special effect as Tom Hanks is seamlessly blended into film footage shot decades ago. Hanks, himself, did a wonderful job playing Forrest, and was able to master a slow, Southern accent with apparent ease. On the whole, an enjoyable change of pace.

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