Forces Of Nature

1999, Movie, PG-13, 102 mins

Review

FORCES OF NATURE
starstarstarstar
A plane crash, sour strangers snarling that love stinks, geezers having heart attacks... does this spell "romantic comedy" to you? Make no mistake: This slackly paced picture doesn't gel. But it so consistently undermines the pastel-pretty conventions that currently rule the genre that some sneaky admiration is in order. New York nice-guy Ben (Ben Affleck) is marrying nice girl Bridget (Maura Tierney) in Savannah, GA, in two day's time. But his plane skids off the runway during take-off, all subsequent flights are canceled and there are no rental cars to be had. So Ben's thrown in with free spirit Sarah (Sandra Bullock), who's also Savannah bound and secures them a ride with middle-aged doper Vic (Jack Kehler). Ben and Sarah's torturous trek via bus, train, car and foot keeps forcing them together in close quarters, and between encounters with a parade of casualties of marriage and watching the footloose Sarah blow into people's hearts (she's a force of nature, you see, like the hurricane dogging their heels), Ben starts to think his upcoming nuptials might be the mistake of a lifetime. The movie's biggest liability is its devotion to a blindly formulaic, intensely sitcomy notion of romantic comedy: Straight-laced Ben behaves like a dope, Sarah carries on like a loon (sensible people avoid girls who do Tarzan imitations atop trains stalled on bridges), and they have nothing in common but must be drawn irresistibly together (chemistry between the leads would help; unfortunately there is none). Affleck and Bullock -- her good girl charm filtered through layers of smudged make-up and slutty clothes -- go through the motions of sparking and flirting, but the movie mostly comes to life when they're on the sidelines, letting the supporting cast of misanthropes, whack jobs and shriveled but game golden-agers strut their idiosyncratic stuff. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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