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FORCES OF NATURE
Review by Andrew Manning (3/99)

Release: 1999, DreamWorks
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Ben Affleck, Maura Tierney
Director: Bronwen Hughes
Genre: Romantic Comedy

He went from the eye of the storm, into the arms of a hurricane...

SUMMARY

Ben (Affleck) has two days to get to his fiancee (Tierney) in Savannah, Georgia. En route, his plane goes skidding off the runway, and he inadvertently saves the life of a fellow passenger: a sexy, eccentric young woman named Sarah (Bullock). She quickly becomes his faithful companion, and the two get into one misadventure after another in Ben's quest to Georgia. But along the way, they begin to fall in love with each other...

WHAT'S GOOD

Sandra Bullock's personal charisma and Ben Affleck's situation are the bright spots of the flick.

First, the former: With a goofy eccentricity we haven't seen since The Demolition Man, Bullock pulls off a character who is really endearing with her quirks. She's truly funny in this movie. Even after seeing it, I still get a kick out of that line in the trailer where she complains, "Maybe I would have thought of that if I wasn't unconscious and bleeding from the head."

Now, the latter: Still, though, Bullock's character is simply a boost to the main point of the film, that is, the situation Ben Affleck's character is stuck in. It sort of reminded me of The Marrying Man: he's on his way to his fiancee (played by under-used actress Maura Tierney) when all sorts of crap happens to him, keeping him from his goal. Everything from financial problems to natural disasters plague the poor son of a bitch, and it's just funny how misfortune seems to dump on him at every turn.


WHAT'S BAD

For me, this film was pretty split down the middle, because the bad points seem to be the exact inverse of the good points. Whereas Bullock's charisma and Affleck's situation are the highlights, Affleck's lack of charisma and Bullock's character development are the two drags.

First, the former: Affleck always has that cocky attitude that makes it hard to like his characters. While the attitude isn't yet as huge as, say, Val Kilmer's, it's still there. I didn't care for him in Chasing Amy, Armageddon, and even Good Will Hunting. Forces of Nature was definitely no exception. Besides that latent cockiness, I don't think he's a particularly compelling actor. Every line of dialogue coming from him seems to come across as pretty flat. If you want to see a really funny performance of a guy plagued with problems trying to get to his fiancee, check out Nicolas Cage in Honeymoon in Vegas. Now that was entertaining.

Now, the latter: Sandra Bullock's character was supposed to be quirky, carefree, and non-committal, right? So then why are we force-fed the token "but there's really more to me than that" plotline? Is it necessary to have to feel sorry for her in some way and take sympathy upon her character? On top of that, it just seemed to confuse the whole issue at hand, because I think the morale of the story ended up being "dump your wife-to-be for a fling."


Rating: 5 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)






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