Reel Dad revisits classic film ‘Forrest Gump’

Tom Hanks stars in “Forrest Gump.”

Tom Hanks stars in “Forrest Gump.”

Contributed photo

Once upon a time, before movies could stream, play on demand or screen on DVDs, families would wait for their favorite films to be broadcast on television networks.

Today, as we continue to embrace the “new normal,” some networks are returning to this tradition. This weekend, CBS will again present “Sunday Night at the Movies” with a showing of the Oscar-winning “Forrest Gump.” What a perfect film for today.

After all, some people are so warm you just want to hug them. They are so filled with positive thoughts that you can’t get enough of the marvelous energy they share. And their optimistic views - that “a glass is always half full, not half empty” - inspire them to bring happiness to others. And that can feel so good when times are challenging.

Forrest Gump is, truly, one of the happiest people you will ever meet. And in the film, as we get to know him well, he reminds us that, “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you will get,” and looks for the good in every person and experience he counters. That wouldn’t be easy for everyone in Forrest’s situation to do because, at the same time, he is challenged to learn and traditionally accomplish. But whatever Forrest may lack in convention he more than overcomes with common sense and an instinct to always look for the positive. And his mother raised him right.

No matter how many times you may have seen this “feel good” movie, watching it again this weekend will bring many laughs and perhaps a few tears. There is enough story to follow, as Forrest’s spirit takes him to visit the President at the White House, to run across the US, to play ping pong in China, to take care of his mother, and to create a home for the love of his life. And there is a strong moral center as he creates his own joy. Ultimately, the essential goodness of this character is so authentic, and so endearing, that who cares if situations in the film may be a bit exaggerated. And, even in his more outrageous moments, the goodwill the character generates will melt even a cold heart.

Of course, no one can look at the film without savoring the marvelous work of Tom Hanks as an actor and Robert Zemeckis as a movie wizard. Together they create a seamless connection between performance and illusion, as Hanks makes us believe in all the movie miracles that Zemeckis seems to create from thin air. We actually believe this young man meets President Kennedy because he believes it so much and because it all looks very believable. Because Zemeckis so believes in Forrest and his message he creates a film that makes the character’s truth our truth.

At this moment in time, especially, sharing an evening with Forrest Gump can remind us of the joy we can experience at any time, even when we’re staying at home. The film inspires us to look for what is good in our lives, and to create meaning for others, as it entertains us with the adventures of this joyful man. What makes the film so endearing, and enduring, is how open he remains to what he may experience. That Forrest always anticipates the next sunrise gives us all a sense of hope.

And we need that now!

“Forrest Gump,” from 1994, will be broadcast Sunday, May 10 at 8 p.m. on CBS-TV. The film is rated PG-13, and runs 2 hours, 22 minutes.