Forces of Nature - * * 1/2*

Part road movie, part romantic comedy, Forces of Nature takes several overfamiliar plots and, well, repeats them. It’s certainly not innovative, but it does have its moments.

Ben (Ben Affleck) is about to be married. His fiancee, Bridget (Maura Tierney) is waiting for him in Savannah, where the wedding is set to take place in a few days. All Ben has to do is travel from New York to Savannah. Easy, right? Not so fast…

With a seemingly unstoppable streak of bad luck, Ben’s path is thwarted in some way each step of the way. To further complicate things, he meets the free-spirited Sarah (Sandra Bullock), also on her way to Savannah.

The pair use nearly every method of transportation aside from pogo sticks in their travels, but are always diverted in one way or another. Will Ben reach Savannah in time for his wedding? Will he still want to get married after his wild adventures? Will the audience’s still care?

It is hard to watch Forces of Nature without thinking that the filmmakers must have been heavily influenced by the Steve Martin-John Candy comedy Planes, Trains and Automobiles. In fact the plot feels like a watered down version of that earlier comedy, with a little romance mixed in. The misadventures of Ben and Sarah are never truly inspired, but do have the odd moments of humor.

The screenplay does little to ward off the strange feelings of deja vu. The film is never subtle about its foreshadowing. For example, the film’s opening scene focuses on a weather forecast showing a hurricane heading straight for Savannah. This warning is repeated multiple times throughout the film. The only thing that comes as a surprise is the fact that none of the characters in the film seem to be aware of what’s coming.

Still, despite the odd feeling that you’ve been here before, the cast is able to make the journey worthwhile. Surprisingly, it isn’t due to the leads who, though likeable, spark little chemistry. It’s the supporting cast that makes this one shine. From Maura Tierney to Richard Schiff, the little roles make the movie. Particular credit goes to Steve Zahn for perking up the few scenes he’s in as the wild and crazy best man.

To wrap things up, Forces of Nature contorts itself to deliver an ending that is neither crowd-pleasing nor believable. It’s the final puzzlement in a puzzlement of a movie.

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