Adaptations

The ‘Forrest Gump’ Book Is Weirder And More Offensive Than The Movie 

Jonathan H. Kantor
Updated December 6, 2019 3.6k views 16 items

For most people, watching a movie based on a favorite book is usually a gamble. Often, the movie doesn't live up to the expectations of the book. But every once in a while, the opposite is true.

Winston Groom's 1986 novel, Forrest Gump, isn't a bad book⁠ - far from it. But if you happened to have read it and then watched the movie, you would probably be confused but delighted by Tom Hanks's portrayal of the eponymous character.

The reason for this is simple: The character depicted on the screen and the one depicted in the book are very different. For this reason, many people who picked up the book after watching the movie didn't like it very much, and that has a lot to do with the contrast between the two characters. Whether you love one, both, or neither, it's interesting to note just how different the book is from the 1994 film.

These are the main differences between the book and the movie, with most of the emphasis on Gump himself.

Forrest Uses Profanity A... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The ‘Forrest Gump’ Book Is Weirder And More Offensive Than The Movie
Photo:  Paramount Pictures
Forrest Uses Profanity And Makes Prejudiced Remarks

In the film, Forrest never utters a word of profanity. The very idea of him cursing is ridiculous, but it isn't like that in the book. In the novel, Forrest has the mouth of a drunken sailor. The author said of the movie that it "took the rough edges off the character," and he was right. Not only does he use profanity, but he also uses plenty of offensive, race-based epithets.

The book suggests Forrest is both a product of his time and his upbringing in Alabama. Plus, there's the simple fact that he doesn't know any better.  

Forrest's Famous 'Box Of... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The ‘Forrest Gump’ Book Is Weirder And More Offensive Than The Movie
Photo:  Paramount Pictures
Forrest's Famous 'Box Of Chocolates’ Quote Is Much Different

"My momma always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get," says Forrest in the film.

Not only does Forrest say this often, but it is also the film's tagline. Unsurprisingly, it isn't the same in the book, which takes a more direct approach to comparing the titular character to his mental state with the following opening line:

Let me say this: being an idiot is no box of chocolates. People laugh, lose patience, treat you shabby. Now they say folks supposed to be kind to the afflicted, but let me tell you this - it ain't always that way. Even so, I got no complaints, cause I reckon I done live a pretty interesting life, so to speak.

Forrest Is Really Tall A... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The ‘Forrest Gump’ Book Is Weirder And More Offensive Than The Movie
Photo:  Paramount Pictures
Forrest Is Really Tall And Buff - And Looks Like John Goodman

Tom Hanks isn't a short man standing at 6'0" in height, but he's much shorter than the book version of Forrest, who stands at 6'6" and weighs in at a bulky 242 lbs. The latter also doesn't require leg braces as a child.

Not only is Hanks not a perfect fit for the character's description from the book, he isn't the actor Groom had in mind when he wrote the book.

When he was writing the book, Groom had none other than John Goodman in mind to play Forrest.

Forrest Becomes An Astro... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The ‘Forrest Gump’ Book Is Weirder And More Offensive Than The Movie
Photo:  Paramount Pictures
Forrest Becomes An Astronaut And Pals Around With An Orangutan Named Sue

Though it doesn't happen in the film, the book sees Forrest take on a number of different professions, which take him all over the world. He is a Hollywood stunt man at one point and works on several movies, but his most interesting job is being an astronaut for NASA. Forrest is selected for the Multi-Orbital Pre-Planetary Sub-Gravitational Inter-Spheroid Spaceflight Training Mission for the purpose of determining what kind of person would be best suited to take a trip to Mars.

The flight has two other participants besides Forrest: Major Fritch, who is the country's first female astronaut, and an orangutan named Sue. Interestingly, Sue is the veteran astronaut of the group, having already flown in space twice.