Aaron Widmar
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Romantic Road Trip Movies: Forces of Nature Review

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Forces of Nature Reivew Ben Affleck Sandra Bullock

Forces of Nature Review: Affleck and Bullock are stranded in a tonally-confused film. Photo: DreamWorks Pictures

At the conclusion of the 20th century, before Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck were Oscar pets, they briefly converged for a cross-country whirlwind from the director of Harriet the Spy. Affleck is miscast as a nervous, uptight writer and Bullock is miscast as a free-spirited seductress in a pessimistic, tonally-confused film attempting to undermine romantic comedy stereotypes. Although the finale of this lengthy road trip might not park itself where you’d expect, is that a good thing?

The Plot

After their flight is grounded, soon-to-be-groom Ben Holmes (Affleck) and manic pixie dream girl Sarah Lewis (Bullock) travel to Savannah together, despite their differences in both behavior and life perspectives. Ben is intent on making it to his wedding to Bridget (Maura Tierney), but along the way, he begins to doubt if he’s marrying the right person. Predictable rom-com setup, right?

The Vehicle(s)

Forces of Nature Review Affleck Red Bonneville

The Batfleck himself pulls up in his barely-functioning Batmobile (1968 Bonneville). Photo: DreamWorks Pictures

Over the course of their trek, the main characters hitch rides on a variety of vehicles: a copper 1995 Chevrolet Geo Metro owned by a fellow traveler, a 1970 GM PD 4108 tour bus, a passenger train, and a burnt red 1968 Pontiac Bonneville (which Ben is able to purchase after performing at a gay strip club). The majority of these vehicles, while featured briefly, are not just meant for transportation. Rather, each shared ride confronts Ben with an unceasing barrage of cynical viewpoints on marriage. Through these interactions, Ben is forcefully driven to grapple with his own doubts about commitment.

Our Forces of Nature Review

What could have been a mature, touching drama is too interested in wacky situations and product placement to exhibit genuine human uncertainty. However, the biggest issue is the spasmodic tone. The lighting and camerawork undermine any humor in the script (mute the sound and I doubt I’d peg this as a comedy), but the conversations are rarely dramatic. While the majority of the running time is devoted to emphasizing a grim perspective on matrimony, the conclusion flips all expectations into an abruptly-sappy resolution.

Those who like the film won’t care for the conclusion, while those who enjoy the conclusion will find the rest unpleasant.