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'Forces': Waiting at the Altar

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 19, 1999

  Movie Critic

'Forces of Nature'
Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck play traveling companions on a challenging journey. (DreamWorks)

Bronwen Hughes
Sandra Bullock;
Ben Affleck;
Maura Tierney;
Steve Zahn;
Blythe Danner;
Ronny Cox
Running Time:
1 hour, 42 minutes
Brief drug use
Along with rain, sleet and hail, Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck experience serious sexual magnetism in "Forces of Nature." Unhappily, the attractive twosome never give into the pull, just as this coquettish variant of "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" never arrives at its promised destination.

Bullock's Sarah, a bubbly, big-haired gal with low self-esteem and pretty teeth, hooks up with Affleck's Ben, a buttoned-down bridegroom with last-minute doubts about his upcoming Savannah-set wedding to Bridget (Maura Tierney of TV's "NewsRadio"). Seated side by side on a flight to Georgia, Ben and Sarah are thrown together when their jet sucks a sea gull into an engine and skids off the runway at New York's JFK (actually Dulles Airport).

Ben, a fearful flier in the first place, refuses to board another plane, so he and the free-spirited Sarah, who credits him with saving her life, hitch a ride with a harmless-looking fellow passenger, who turns out not to be so harmless after all. The couple subsequently wind up in jail charged with drug-dealing, just one of the many wacky mishaps that writer Marc Lawrence throws in the couple's way. "I think I'll just sit here and wait for the locusts," says Ben, when yet another natural disaster keeps them from reaching Savannah, where the loyal Bridget, her apoplectic parents and his apologetic ones anxiously await the arrival of the prodigal bridegroom as well as an impending hurricane, which, like the delectable Sarah, threatens to lay waste to the wedding.

Director Bronwen Hughes ("Harriet the Spy") whips up a lovely nuptial tempest of wind-whipped ribbons, wet peau de soie and bruised rose petals. Indeed, she's more interested in the weather than the characters, who spend much of the movie dodging hailstones and raindrops.

No one will be surprised when the caper is blown way off course, dashing expectations. Nobody dies, mind you, but there's no occasion to toast the happy couple either.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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