Forrest Gump like
Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) in Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, Paramount Pictures, 1994)
Stories & Ideas

Tue 01 Dec 2020

Forrest Gump – "Life is like a box of chocolates"

Edit Line Film Pop culture
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Brittney Montag

Festivals & Events Coordinator

Forrest didn't correctly remember his mama's advice but audiences sure remembered his interpretation.

Sitting at a bus stop talking to everyone who will lend an ear, Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) begins his life epic with, "my momma always said life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get". In Forrest’s case, this couldn’t be truer and his Southern drawl over the word like has an almost fairytale like quality that hints at the film’s fantastical storyline. Released in 1994, Forrest Gump tells the story of an unlikely hero from Alabama who consistently overcomes incredible circumstances by simply going with the flow like a feather floating in the wind, having chance encounters with historical figures and events defining of the era.

Perhaps a precursor to deepfake technology, Forrest Gump wowed audiences by digitally inserting the protagonist into archival footage chronicling 30 years of politically tumultuous American history (1950s–80s). By unintentionally becoming a football star, war hero, successful businessman and more, Gump personifies the zeitgeist of the American dream despite his apolitical approach whilst everyone else around him suffer as they chase this so-called dream. The key to his success seems to be unwavering kindness and optimism guided by his mama’s famous words. Life is full of endless possibilities; you never know what’s in store so enjoy it as it comes.

Forrest Gump grossed over $670 million dollars at the box office and scored six Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay. For those who still have cable television, there’s a high possibility Forrest Gump will be taking up one of the prime time spots most nights of the week still to this day…

"Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get" has been an easy target for the memeverse who use this format for a wide variety of topics; some wholesome, some ironic and some pretty dry. There’s no shortage of different takes on this very popular quote.

History and homework help website Shmoop even uses the ultra-famous quote as an English lesson: "Forrest doesn't even get his mama's quote exactly right. Mama (played by Sally Field) uses a metaphor, saying 'life is a box of chocolates'. Forrest turns it into a simile by adding 'like'. Looks like grammar is a box of chocolates with these two. You never know what figure of speech you're gonna get.”

But, audiences got what they wanted: a line enshrined in pop-culture consciousness.

– Britney Montag

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