Forces of Nature (1999)

John, my friend . . . you own me a brew at the “Double Douche” . . . for I just endured a “chick flick” — for you. A chick flick with Sandra Bullock, no less. And Ben Affleck. And I just went from the rim of the bowl, and into the swirl of the bowl . . . storms and hurricane analogies of the heart be damned.

Just the way he’s leaning back, like a limp-ass noodle, is pissing me off.

If all feels a little sitcomy, that’s because you’ll notice the name of Marc Lawrence on the marquee, who broke into the industry as a staff writer and supervising producer on NBC-TV’s Family Ties. He then went on to become Sandra Bullock’s go-to writer, also penning her films Miss Congeniality (2002), Miss Congeniality 2 (2002), and Two Weeks Notice (2002).

Amazingly, and only in Hollywood-penned careers, Ben Holmes, our romantic lead (Ben Affleck), is able to make a living — and live in Manhattan, the most expensive section of real estate in the U.S. — by writing “blurbs” on the sleeves of hardcover books. Meanwhile, Sam and I kill ourselves writing movie reviews for, get this, the glory — and the occasional free screener links. And the privilege to live in a week-to-week existence in Allegheny County where the Spaghetti-O’s flow like a fine wine.

Yep, as usual: in less than five minutes, Ben Affleck has managed to pissed me off with the desire to give him, as Sam would say, “a Chris Kattan punch in the nutsack” for making a movie.

Anyway, the “force of nature” comes in the form of a self-professed, free-spirited drifter named Sarah (Sandra Bullock) who ends up next to Ben on his flight from New York City to Savannah, Georgia. Oh, and Ben is on his way to marry Bridget who, of course, he discovers he doesn’t love, thanks to wild n’ crazy Sarah.

And how is it, a free-spirit without the income of our successful blurb writer, can afford to sit next to Ben on a plane? Eh, plot piffle. Lets cue the birds — the fowl that flies into the engines and grounds the plane. So Sarah convinces Ben to rent-ride share to Savannah. But why not hop another flight? Well, Ben hated flying in the first place — and now that friggin’ bird in the engine has him completely freaked out. Hey, he’s a book blurb writer and has everything to live for: for he, like the annoyances on NBC-TV’s Friends, has a job with an income level that in no way can afford him to live next to Joey Tribbiani and Chandler Bing who, based on economics, shouldn’t be able to live in Manhattan, either. (And how in the hell did Rachel Green — a homeless and unemployed runaway bride, without a degree in the field and no experience, and who couldn’t even cut it as a coffee house waitress — climb the ladder of Ralph Lauren’s fashion empire, then be courted by Gucci? Only in the sitcom-verse where you get amazing jobs with no training and apartments beyond your meager means, and there’s never a shortage of attractive women for annoying, bald Woody Allen knockoffs like George Costanza.)

Anyway . . . back to “The Force,” as the usual car rentals, train snafus, crowded buses, love on Tilt-a-Whirls, and thunderstorms — and the eventual hurricane — ensues. But why didn’t they call this Planes, Trains, and Automobiles? Well, that title was already taken by a Steve Martin and John Candy movie, remember? And naming a film after transportational devices isn’t as romantic as giving a movie a title that implies kismet.

Hey, what about John Doe?

Well, he’s married to Sandra and she dumps him for Ben. Dumping a hungry wolf for a douchy wash cloth? Welcome to the sitcom-verse. But in Sandra’s defense: John’s a scumbag that’s cheating her out of her family home and never lets her live down life’s mistakes. In John’s defense: he slugs ‘ol Benny-boy right in the kisser. Nice. But it took an hour and a half to get to John’s scene, so that punch to Ben’s face isn’t enough to save this rom-doggle — even if it’s John Doe throwing the punch. Maybe if John also socked Ben’s whiny-nasally co-star, Steve Zahn?

Hah. Too little, too late. Time for Pat McGurn to tap us a cold one, you know, at the place where, when Ben Affleck confronts me for this review . . . they’ll be sweepin’ my eyeballs off the floor.

Yeah, I’m going to need a TBS replay of John Doe in Road House to flush this celluloid infamy from my eyes. Yeah, John. I know you were in The Good Girl (2002) with Jennifer Aniston. But sorry, my friend. No can do. I already did the Affleck flick for you, and now you’re on shaky ground with Jen. Even Sam, the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer and Mix Master of Movie Themed Drinks, scoffed at my challenge to review it. Not even a threat from your Uncle Brad will make us. Sorry, John. But we’re just not that desperate for entertainment in Allegheny County. But feel free to write the tune “R.D Hit and Run Ben,” with no publishing rights on my end required.

But Sam — being the uber Rowdy Herrington* fan that he is — is reviewing Road House for ya! (*So much so, he conducted a four-part interview with the director.)

From the Useless Movie Trivia to Amaze Your Friends at Parties Department: This is the second John Doe review this week — the other is Man Maid (2008) — that features actor Steve Hytner and John Doe in the same movie — although they’re not in any scenes together, here. They’re also in the unreleased Mila Kunis flick Tom Cool (2009). And sci-fi fans may recall Hynter and Doe in the cast of “Into the Woods” from the first season of FOX-TV’s Roswell. So, there you go. Reviewing this movie wasn’t a total waste, for you’ve been movie trivia blessed.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

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