Forces of Nature

After GOOD WILL HUNTING hit theaters and catapulted Ben Affleck to superstardom, he went on a rampage where he starred in over 30 movies over the next ten years. He was everywhere and audiences quickly got sick of seeing him. That, and at times it seemed like he wasn’t even reading the scripts before agreeing to star in the film. Despite the numerous clunkers from Mr. Affleck, one movie that I’ve always had a fondness for is FORCES OF NATURE. It seemed to have gotten lost in the mix and I’ve always felt it never got the credit it deserved for being a touching and engrossing romantic comedy.

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The film revolves around Ben Holmes (Ben Affleck) who is on his way to Savannah to marry Bridget Cahill (Maura Tierney). But things go awry when weather cancels all the flights and he’s stranded at the airport. Determined to make it to his own wedding on time, he decides to seek out alternate modes of transportation. That’s where he meets up with Sarah Lewis (Sandra Bullock) who is just as eager to make it to Savannah, albeit for her own reasons. Reluctantly, they discover they need each other and agree to be travel partners.

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As luck would have it, their journey is filled with mishaps and mini-adventures, each one bringing them closer together. It’s a bit cliché at times, with them starting out bickering with one another and then eventually finding an attraction. There’s nothing groundbreaking about their journey or their story, but it’s told very well and it takes a turn that most romantic comedies stay clear of. Beneath the cutesy surface of boy meets girl is a story about two people whose lives are taking them in drastically different directions. But for a couple of days, they find happiness basking in the contradictions they see in one another. These are not shallow characters, these are two people that have serious issues and manage to work through them with the help of each other.

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Many of us live our lives on a single path, fulfilling a specific stereotype. Maybe we’re the straight laced guy that gets a good job, gets married, has kids and retires at 65. Or perhaps we’re the wild child that can’t seem to get their life in order and bounce from unhealthy situation to unhealthy situation. Regardless, there are moments in your life where you meet someone and get to experience a different lifestyle, if even for a couple of days, and you long for that kind of life even though you know it doesn’t fit you. That’s what this film means to me. It’s a glimpse into a moment where two complete opposites meet and become enamored with each other’s lifestyle and even though they both know they can’t change for the other, they can at least enjoy the time they have together.

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Affleck and Bullock pull off their respective roles wonderfully and add a depth to the characters that you don’t often see in romantic comedies. This isn’t an Oscar-caliber film, but I think it received unfair criticism from people that haven’t even seen the film. Bronwen Hughes has a beautiful directing style and her creativity added a lot to the film. If you missed this during the Affleck-blitz, then I think you’ll be pleased revisiting it today.


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