Forces Of Nature Review

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After missing his flight, prospective groom Ben Affleck makes a mad trek across America to his wedding in the company of wild child Sandra Bullock


Here we go, a virile 90s spin on the Cary Grant/Katharine Hepburn screwballers of the 40s with a hip-for-the-kids pairing of kooksome everygirl Bullock and brawny dish Affleck. A marketer's dreamboat, what with all that comedy (and these two have been known to land a gag in their time) and the added spice of some dynamic action. But who on earth left the handbrake on?

The pitch is Plane Trains And Automobiles with top totty, as Affleck's fraught groom-to-be Ben Holmes endeavours to reach his Savannah wedding through raging weather and travel catastrophes, saddled with weirdo companion Sarah (Bullock). She, by a procession of increasingly confused plot devices, has him masquerade as her hubbie, pretend to be a doctor, do a strip at a gay joint and go on the run from the law. She's a grab-life kinda girl, he's a real stick-in-the-mud. Telegram to the audience - opposites are gonna attract this way soon.

Director Hughes does a shabby job of assembling all this obvious (but obviously attractive) stuff. There is no sense of jeopardy or panic in the farcical shenanigans, the set pieces - plane crash, car lift with loony, bus ride with octogenarian revellers - are flat and ineffectually paced at a crawl while characters gas on about the hateful world of monogamy. There is little-to-zilch chemistry between Affleck and a Bullock who fumbles to find the tenor of Sarah's kooky but soulful take on life in a script forgoing wit in favour of contriving yet another tortuous scrape. And for Hughes to do her cute special rain effect where she slo-mos up the droplets but keeps the rest of the action running at normal speed. Which, frankly, is just naff pop-promo gimmickry.

All you can say for this misfire is that the boy Affleck is a star. Even lumbered with such trite characterisation as the commitment-neurotic, he instils his pretty boy looks with the charming sense of imposed dignity that Cary Grant made a career out of. His leading man credentials are writ large but this film does his efforts few favours. What should have been light and frothy, a cutsie-pie whirlwind romance, is finally hamstrung by a leaden earnestness: today's nightmare vogue of shallow movies searching in vain for some kind of weighty moral deliberation. We slip off with such a damnably "honest" conclusion about true love, you just want to puke.

An attempt to re-create the screwball comedies of the ‘30s and ‘40s which is a serious mis-fire.