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   FORCES OF NATURE (1999) 

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CAST
Sandra Bullock
Ben Affleck
Maura Tierney
Steve Zahn
Blythe Danner
Ronny Cox
David Strickland

DIRECTED BY
Bronwen Hughes

PURCHASE


DVD



Soundtrack




Time: 102 mins.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Romance/Drama


I guess the crux of this review can be summed up in two simple statements: when the film was over my boyfriend asked me, "Were you suprised by the ending?" My retort back, "Did I care?" FORCES OF NATURE is a film of parts that never really goes anywhere, much like its' lead characters, Ben (Affleck) and Sarah (Bullock). The lack of true chemistry between Bullock and Affleck is deeply disappointing considering they are both attractive and talented people. They each have their own charms, which are about the only thing that keeps this movie afloat. I like Bullock alot, but she doesn't really have much to do here except look sexy and act "free." This is supposed to cause uptight, nice guy Affleck to just toss over his fiancée, Bridget (Tierney) and completely change his life to be with Bullock. I didn't buy it for a second.

Was I surprised by his choice in the end – not one bit. This film makes a big show of how horrible marriage is and that no one can make it work, but it's clear from the start that this guy wants nothing more than to be tied down to the woman he loves, no matter what the filmmaker's want you to believe. Affleck does an OK job as the conflicted guy who thinks he's fallen for another woman on the eve of his wedding, but he's not a great actor and this isn't a well-written film. He's funny because he doesn't have to really act that much, which is lucky for him. As long as he plays the straight guy, he should continue to have a career, much to my dismay.

The film is basically PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES as a romantic comedy. It's too bad it's not even half as funny. Ben meets Sarah on a flight from New York to Savannah, Georgia where he is about to get married. His worst fears are realized when their plane crashes without ever leaving the ground. Not willing to get on another plane, he decides to find other means of getting to Georgia. Having "saved" her life, Sarah helps him by getting them a ride with Vic, a guy going their way. Unfortunately for them, they have no idea that Vic is a small-time drug dealer. They get pulled over by the cops and end up in jail. Big surprise, huh? They are eventually let go and manage to catch a train to Savannah. Ben feels guilty about spending time with Sarah since he feels attracted to her, so they go their separate ways once onboard.


"I haven't known you that long, but I think there may be something wrong with you."

When the train stops on a bridge for a change over, they get on the top to soak in the view and kill some time. Unfortunately, they reboard the last 4 cars which were unhooked during the stop and are now on their way to Chicago. They have no choice but to jump off the train in the next town. The problem – the bus station is closed. The only place open – a 24-hour Kmart. (I wonder how much they paid for that product placement.) While killing time until morning, they play, shop, eat and get to know one another. Kmart never seemed so glamorous. Why they didn't just get seperate rooms at a local hotel I don't know. After all, anyplace that has a 24-hour Kmart is bound to have motels. Whatever. Tired of shopping, they go to a local laundrymat where they get their wallets stolen. Since they have no money to buy bus tickets, Sarah makes a deal with Ben. If she gets them on a senior tour bus to Florida, he'll pretend to be her husband once they get to Savannah so she can sell property she owns there. He doesn't want to lie, but realizes he has no choice and agrees. They are now Dr. and Mrs. Ben Holmes.

From there, things continue to go down hill: one of the elderly men has a heart attack so they have to stop for the night; while at the motel he runs into his best man (Zahn) and the maid-of-honor who think he's having an affair with Sarah and leave without him; their secret is uncovered by the tour group and they're thrown out of the hotel; and worst of all the place where his father wired him money burns to the ground right before their very eyes. In the best scene of the film, Ben is forced to strip for cash at a gay bar so they can buy a car to finish their journey. They arrive in Savannah late for his wedding and just as a major hurricane is about to hit. He swears to Sarah that he's going to tell Bridget the truth, that he doesn't want to get married. That he's in love with Sarah. She doesn't believe him. He's only known her for two days and just because he's had fun and loosened up that doesn't mean he's actually in love. No duh. The film ends as it should in a swirl of poetry and happiness all around. Yuck.

The only thing worse than the dialogue and plot of this film was the direction. It was like watching a 2-hour music video. It seems the director forgot who the real stars were. Yes, you're supposed to move the camera around, but not every second. I was nauseous by the end of the film. There's a big difference between being stylistic and being annoying. Maybe I would have felt something for these characters if I was able to get to know them instead of watching how interesting the camera angle was. If they actually put as much thought into the characters and plot as they did into the art direction and weather effects this could have been a good movie. It has it's funny moments, but they are too few and far between. As it stands, the only reason to see it is if you love Bullock or Affleck. They don't do anything special, but you probably won't mind too much.



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