1999; Rated PG-13; 105 Minutes
Sandra Bullock: Sarah Lewis
Ben Affleck: Ben Holmes
Maura Tierney: Bridget
Steve Zahn: Alan
Blythe Danner: Virginia
Ronny Cox: Hadley
Produced by Susan
Arnold, Ian Bruce and Donna Roth; Directed by Bronwen
Hughes; Screenwritten by Marc Lawrence
by DAVID KEYES
best way I can competently approach "Forces Of Nature" is
by comparing it to actual natural disasters. Why? Take these
factors into notice: a tornado spins throughout the atmosphere,
picks up objects, and throws them to places we'd never expect
them to be thrown to. "Forces Of Nature" spins throughout
the plot, picks up characters without warning, and then
dumps them into equally unbelievable locations and situations.
An earthquake rattles the ground, and destroys large buildings
from the bottom foundation. "Forces Of Nature" rattles the
foundation of the plot structure and then crumbles without
a hint of relief. In both nature and movies, these disasters
occur without warning, but they could be easily avoided
by taking the right precautions. More lives could be saved
in earthquakes if they stayed in protective areas and did
not panic. Less cinematic disasters like "Forces Of Nature"
would be made if the director knew how to treat the script
correctly, and the writer knew how to enforce a sturdy plot
and reasonably intelligent characters.
call the movie a disaster is doing it justice; "Forces Of
Nature" is a shameless two-hour trip of lousy character
interaction, daisy-head romance, anti-conclusions and disconnected
human logic. The film stars Ben Affleck and Sandra Bullock
as two people who accidentally meet and then fall in love,
which is an okay idea for a movie, but not when it is executed
in all the wrong ways. You sit there, feeling disheartened
by the colorless chemistry of the two stars, and are then
suddenly betrayed by a conclusion so distraught, so insubordinate
and meaningless that you feel like booing the screen. And
believe me, the audience of the opening-weekend showing
knew how I felt. If the theater had been one of those old
1930's screening rooms, the ticket-taker would have forced
me to stay after the movie and pick up all the popcorn and
garbage with my bear hands.
a premise filled with millions of predictable formulas following
a story written with the appeal of a sour grape. That's
the way the film plays: it is about an ad salesman named
Ben Holmes (Affleck) who is scheduled to wed the wealthy
southern woman named Bridget (Maura Tierney) two days after
the movie opens. Ben is scared of flying, but nonetheless
is willing to board a small plane to make it to Savannah,
Georgia, in time for the wedding. In a freak accident that
causes the plane to crash (actually, it never even takes
off), his life is saved by one Sarah Lewis (Bullock). She's
a wild, quirky woman, capable of being witty and annoying
all at the same time; after Ben's rescue, she becomes his
'servant,' so to speak, and follows him through the land
on his way to the wedding.
trip is, of course, filled with all kinds of careless dangers.
Aside from their travels taking place on boats, trains,
cars, etc., they encounter money shortages and mistaken
identities, in which, at one point, Ben is mistaken for
a doctor aboard a Senior citizen bus, and later, he is forced
to strip in a gay bar so he and Sarah can earn some money
to continue their seemingly endless journey.
of these emergencies and situations revolve completely around
Ben and Sarah, which makes for an exhaustive series of boring
circumstances and brain-dead laughs. Perhaps that is because
the script treats both characters in such a way that they
cannot successfully develop an enjoyable chemistry for each
other. One of the great things about a romantic comedy is
watching two people charm the audience with their quick
wit and charm. They work best if they are opposites yet
similar enough enjoy each other's company. In "Forces Of
Nature," Ben and Sarah are so opposite that neither is appreciative
to the other, nor are either of them endearing to the viewer.
when Ben tries to develop an interaction between Sarah and
himself, he goes about it all wrong. In one scene, for instance,
after we see the true personality of Sarah (the cynical,
'live-for-the-day' type of attitude), Ben turns to her and
says, "I haven't known you that long, but I think there
might be something wrong with you." Of course, he'd say
that: the movie is so dumbfounded that it gives us dialogue
like this, even though we can realize all by ourselves that
something is indeed wrong with Sarah. That isn't funny.
If the writer thinks it is funny, I'd hate to see what his
definition of 'unfunny' is.
where in the world does the ending fit into all of this?
Nowhere. It's miscalculated. I feel obligated to reveal
the resolution in this review, but I shall not do so; I
will, however, freely call it the worst piece of trash ever
labeled as an "ending."
least a filmmaker could do is give us a conclusion that
does not feel so disconnected from the rest of the movie,
especially when the movie is not that good to begin with.
A golden rule for most movies is that they require three
separate acts to achieve completeness: an opening, a middle,
and a conclusion. In this case, the third act could have
been dropped, and the movie might have been a little better.
1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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