[Screen It]


(1999) (Sandra Bullock, Ben Affleck) (PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Moderate Minor Heavy *Minor None
Mild None None Mild Heavy
Smoking Tense Family
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Romantic Comedy: Trying to get to Savannah for his wedding, a serious and reserved young man must contend with an attractive, free-spirited woman as well as various forces of nature, both of which seem certain to impede his terrestrial and marital journey.
Ben (BEN AFFLECK) is a serious and reserved novel jacket copywriter who's on his way from New York to Savannah to get married to his fiancÚ, Bridget (MAURA TIERNEY). After a freak runway accident and a pending hurricane ground his and the rest of the planes in the Big Apple, Ben and Sarah (SANDRA BULLOCK), the woman who was seated next to him on their crashed plane, catch a ride trying to make to Georgia.

Despite being faithful to Bridget, Ben is immediately attracted to Sarah, a free-spirited, live life to its fullest type of woman who's traveling to Savannah to sell her stake in a restaurant. After their initial ride ends disastrously, the two try various modes of transportation to head to their destination, but continually run into complications that constantly force them to change their plans.

Meanwhile, as Ben's best man, Alan (STEVE ZAHN), and the maid-of-honor, Debbie (MEREDITH SCOTT LYNN), also make their way south, in Savannah Bridget most contend with her overbearing parents, Virginia (BLYTHE DANNER) and Hadley (RONNY COX), as well as her old boyfriend, Steve (DAVID STRICKLAND), who thinks he still loves her.

As Bridget anxiously awaits her fiancÚ's arrival, Ben must not only deal with even more complications to his travel plans, but also his growing attraction to Sarah and the consequent doubts about whether marriage is the right thing for him.

If they're fans of Bullock, Affleck, or romantic comedies, they probably will.
For sensuality, language and a scene of drug use.
  • BEN AFFLECK plays a seriously reserved, soon to be married copywriter who ends up falling for Sarah (and makes out with her) and then questions whether he should get married or not.
  • SANDRA BULLOCK plays a free-spirited woman who cusses a little, smokes pot in one scene and hasn't seen her young boy for several years due to being a bad mother.
  • MAURA TIERNEY plays Ben's fiancÚ who understandably gets upset that Ben is late for their wedding weekend. As such, she gets drunk and ends up with an old boyfriend, but stops before she goes too far with him.
  • STEVE ZAHN plays Ben's zany best man who encourages Ben to play the field before settling down with just one woman for the rest of his life.


    OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
    If your cable TV line suddenly got scrambled and the resulting picture on your set was an overlapping combination of Comedy Central playing "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," TBS airing "Honeymoon in Vegas" and The Weather Channel talking about, well, nothing but the weather, then you'd have a close approximation of "Forces of Nature."

    A screwball romantic comedy that successfully mixes elements from those sources but is lightweight enough that a stiff breeze could blow it far from your memory, the film is nonetheless an enjoyable enough diversion that should please fans of that genre.

    Unless sheer coincidence is at play, the film's story -- as written by Marc Lawrence ("Life With Mikey," the upcoming "the Out-of-Towners") -- was undeniably influenced by the real life story from several years ago where a plane carrying a bride and groom to-be skidded off the runway on the way to their wedding in the South, that was then disrupted by an approaching hurricane that also devastated their Caribbean honeymoon destination.

    While such events are obviously painful to those directly involved, after a while they do take on a sort of surreal, humorous quality due to the sheer odds of so many bad events simultaneously occurring to one set of people. As such, this film takes advantage of such moments, but it would have been much better had Lawrence and director Bronwen Hughes ("Harriet the Spy") added even more to heighten the comedic hilarity.

    As it stands, the film works, but I doubt many viewers would have complained had a few more outrageous, weather related laughs (from tornados, floods, earthquakes, etc...) been added to the overall, complication inducing mix. After all, if you're going to have a few such instances, why not go for the gusto?

    Of course, the success of films like this one relies heavily on the chemistry between the two leads and we can happily report that there's plenty to spare here. Sandra Bullock ("Speed," "Hope Floats"), who is no stranger to hitting the correct romantic notes with her characters, delivers yet another performance that's not decidedly different from those she's previously played. Portraying the bubbly, free-spirited woman might not be much of a stretch of her now -- and it's certainly not bad for her bank account -- but Bullock does it so convincingly, disarmingly, and seemingly without much effort that you can't help but like her performance.

    Ben Affleck ("Armageddon," "Good Will Hunting"), on the other hand, is stepping into uncharted career waters as he tackles the lead role in a major motion picture for the first time. Thankfully playing down most of the smug cockiness that has infused many of the characters he's previously played, Affleck delivers a likeable, comedic contrast to Bullock's more outgoing and outrageous character. While the two might not seem entirely right for each other in such roles -- a point the film explores and plays off -- their chemistry together seems natural and believable enough to make the film work.

    Supporting performances are good, but suffer from lack of sufficient screen time and/or character development. It's nice, however, that the filmmakers didn't choose to draw Maura Tierney ("Liar, Liar," "Primal Fear") as the stereotypical "bitchy" or loser, bride-to-be character. While they obviously had to be careful with the whole Ben/Sarah romance as pertaining to her character, they chose wisely in making her as human -- with comic touches, of course -- as possible.

    It's the wonderfully daffy Steve Zahn ("Out of Sight," "That Thing You Do"), however, who steals every scene in which he appears. Although, like Bullock, he generally plays the same sort of character in different films, he's always quite enjoyable and one only wishes he had been given a bit more time to do his thing.

    Despite it having scenes that don't make any sense (such as why Ben can't tell the truth about Sarah to Alan and Debbie), others that seem present just to be a movie moment (like the one with Sarah and Ben standing atop a train that's inexplicably, but conveniently stopped on a bridge with a picturesque view), and some that simply fall into the obligatory category (the music montage of Ben and Sarah shopping in the Kmart), the film has some truly funny moments as well as the requisite charm to please its target audience.

    Certainly not a classic in the romantic comedy genre, and most likely destined to be forgotten by the time they release the next such Sandra Bullock picture, this film is fluffy, lightweight stuff. It also just so happens to be rather entertaining, humorous and fun enough to fulfill its basic cinematic goal. As such, we give "Forces of Nature" a 6 out of 10.

    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this PG-13 rated film. Some mild sexually related talk occurs in several scenes, a stripper (in a high cut bikini) performs at Ben's bachelor party, while Ben does an impromptu striptease dance of his own in a gay club (no nudity and to raise money). We also see Ben getting all worked up after seeing the silhouette of Sarah undressing in a hotel bathroom. Beyond that, some making out and slight fooling around also occurs.

    Profanity gets a heavy rating due to one use of the "f" word, while other words and phrases also occur but aren't too abundant. One scene involves Sarah and another man smoking pot, while drinking occurs in some scenes, including one that shows Bridget rather drunk. Finally, some bad attitudes are also present as the near-to-being-married couple fool around with others (although they don't sleep with them) and we hear other talk about infidelity.

    Beyond that, however, the remaining categories are relatively void of any major objectionable material. Nonetheless, and as is always the case, should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, we suggest that you take a closer look at what's been listed.

  • People have drinks at a bachelor party.
  • Bridget's parents have drinks.
  • A guy Ben and Sarah get a ride with wonders if they want some "weed" and then lights up a joint and smokes it while driving. Sarah takes several hits from it, while Ben refuses, jokingly stating "I had some peyote for lunch." They do get pulled over by the police, however, and arrested for possession (although they're let off the hook since the driver had prior charges).
  • We see Bridget's father with a drink again.
  • People have drinks at a party where Bridget also has a drink.
  • People have drinks at the rehearsal dinner and we see Bridget drinking straight from a bottle. Later, we see her drinking even more and she appears intoxicated.
  • Some senior citizens have drinks in a hotel bar.
  • People have drinks in a gay bar.
  • People have drinks waiting for the groom to show up at the wedding.
  • A seagull is sucked into a plane's engine (although we only see feathers coming out).
  • Sarah appeared to have bumps/abrasions on her head after a plane crash.
  • A guy sitting next to Ben on a plane sees Sarah as a sex object and then makes sure to rub up against her as she passes by to get to her seat.
  • A guy Ben and Sarah get a ride with talks about catching his wife in the shower with another man.
  • Ben learns that an older couple he presumes to be married are actually having an affair.
  • A miscellaneous character steals Sarah's money from her bag at a laundromat.
  • To get on a bus headed to Florida for free, Sarah lies to the tour director about her and Ben being just married and that he's a doctor. After their ruse has been discovered and the senior citizens present them with their hotel bill, Ben and Sarah run away without paying it (of course they're penniless at the time).
  • Ben has some of both for falling for, and making out with Sarah the day before his marriage, while Bridget also has some of both for seeing and doing the same with her old boyfriend (who has some for trying to win her back a day before her wedding).
  • Sarah's current husband has both for the way he treats her (calling her a "bitch") and badmouthing her to Ben.
  • Although they're played for laughs, it's always possible some viewers may find two scenes that have older men having heart attacks (they survive) as somewhat tense.
  • The same holds true for a scene where a seagull gets sucked through a plane's engine (we only see the feathers coming out the other side) causing the plane to careen across the runway, knock over some items and crash into a sign, resulting in several people having minor injuries.
  • None.
  • Phrases: "Bitch" (said toward Sarah), "Old fart," "Freakin'," "Whore," "Geezer," "Imbecile," "Idiot," "Moron" and "Loser."
  • We see Sarah on top of a stopped train, and she then persuades Ben to join her.
  • Sarah gives Ben "the finger."
  • None.
  • None.
  • A song playing on the radio has the lyric, "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with."
  • A song played during Ben's impromptu striptease act in a gay club had lyrics that mostly couldn't be understood, but we did hear "I'm a sexual animal...eat you like a cannibal" and "If loving you is wrong, I don't want to be right..."
  • At least 1 "f" word, 3 "s" words, 3 asses, 2 hells, 1 S.O.B., 1 damn, and 6 uses of "Oh my God," 3 each of "My God," "Oh God" and "Jesus," 2 each of "G-damn" and "God," and 1 use each of "For Christ's sakes" and "Oh Jesus" as exclamations.
  • At his bachelor party, Ben says that he doesn't want any strippers or to "get lucky." Nonetheless, we see that a stripper has arrived wearing a high-cut bikini and balloons around her bikini top just after Alan tells Ben that this will be his last chance to be with a naked woman other than his wife. We then see part of the stripper's bare butt (in that high cut outfit) and she has various men pop the balloons around her chest, including Ben for whom she does something of a handstand and then spreads and wraps her legs around his neck (with her covered crotch momentarily in his face) as he sits in a chair.
  • Ben's grandfather says that his wife (Ben's grandmother) was once attractive, but he may have thought that way because she was the only woman he had "been with." The grandfather then goes on to say that he always dreamed of other women and wondered what it would be like "to hold them, touch them, and smell them."
  • We briefly see Ben and Bridget rolling around on a bed and kissing (both are fully clothed).
  • A guy sitting next to Ben on a plane comments about telling a wife about the "thirty pounds you've put on since we stopped having sex." He then sees Sarah as a sex object and makes sure that he rubs up against her as she passes by to get to her seat.
  • Ben learns that an older couple he presumes to be married are actually having an affair. As such, the woman states that until she met this man, "I thought sex was a horrible obligation that God put on woman like cramps and high heels." The man then adds, "For years, she never experienced a genuine orgasm."
  • Put up in a hotel room with just one waterbed by some senior citizens who believe them to be married, Ben and Sarah try to relax. However, as she undresses in the bathroom, he (and we) can see the silhouette of her shape through a translucent glass wall. That and some sultry singing from her (and sensuous sounding music playing on the soundtrack) eventually drives him crazy and he has to leave the room. During that scene, we see the camera pan up her bare back from the bottom of her waist up to her head.
  • A man comments that older people at one time "went dancing...made love in the backseats of cars..." when they were younger.
  • A man makes a comment about "a little bada-bing" (sex).
  • Informing Ben of the "rules" about how to keep a woman happy, Sarah says, "After sex, hold her for a while..."
  • Needing no explanation from Ben about Sarah, Alan says, "Remember? I'm the guy who tried to get you to sleep with more women before your wedding."
  • We see Sarah in her bra and underwear as she talks to Ben and mentions that she was seventeen when she got pregnant. After a moment or so, they being making out but nothing else happens.
  • We see Bridget and Steve lying on a bed (clothed) with him caressing her body, but she stops him before anything else happens and says "It's wrong" (with him replying "It feels so right").
  • Sarah and Ben stand outside a bar called "Mr. Wonderful" that has a full-size painting/drawing of a woman in a bikini on the door. Sarah decides to go in and strip for money (a "bump and grind"), but once inside they realize that it's a gay bar (where we also see a transvestite) and Sarah encourages Ben to strip for the money they need to continue their trip. Played entirely for laughs, Ben is reluctant at first, but as Sarah seductively dances around and against him and removes his pants (we see him in his boxers), he finally gets into it and teases the gay audience. Afterwards, he jokingly says, "I'm a gay dancer and I love it."
  • Bridget smokes once, while miscellaneous characters smoke in bars.
  • Bridget's parents get on her nerves and she later learns that they're separated.
  • We learn that Sarah is married (but ready to get divorced) and was married before where her child chose to live with his father instead of her.
  • Ben's questioning of whether he should get married or not -- and whether people who are married are happy that they are.
  • As a stripper (with a bullfighter-related name) performs for Ben and his pals, we see brief footage of a real bullfight where a bull knocks down several men/matadors.
  • A seagull gets sucked through a plane's engine (we only see the feathers coming out the other side) causing the plane to careen across the runway, knock over some items and crash into a sign, resulting in several people having minor injuries.
  • A guy Ben and Sarah get a ride with talks about catching his wife in the shower with another man and then throwing him through the window resulting in some broken bones (not seen).
  • We see a building engulfed in flames but don't know if the fire was accidental or purposefully set.
  • As Sarah's husband starts to grab at her, Ben intervenes but is then hit by this man, which causes Ben to punch him back.
  • The hurricane causes a tree branch to fall on Ben and Sarah's car, and other wind-related damage occurs at the wedding location.

  • Reviewed March 15, 1999 / Posted March 19, 1999

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