A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Forces of Nature is a romantic comedy about having cold feet before marriage and involves some illegal drug use (a character smokes a joint while driving; an arrest follows), drinking to cope, a bachelor strip scene (no nudity), a gay-bar striptease to raise money (no nudity), and a subplot of a mother who abandoned her child. Overall the movie presents a fairly cynical take on the horrors of marriage. Though the ending message is ultimately pro-commitment, the heavy themes, sometimes dark messages, and sad circumstances are better for teens and adults.
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What's the story?
Ben (Ben Affleck) is happily soon-to-be married to Bridget (Maura Tierney), or so he thinks until a near-plane crash leaves him stuck traveling for two days with Sarah (Sandra Bullock), a whimsical stranger who has him questioning his vows, the meaning of commitment, and the nature of love itself. He has to solve this existential crisis before his wedding day -- assuming he won't be held up indefinitely by the series of disasters, natural and otherwise, striking left and right.
Is it any good?
The movie has a reasonable enough message at its core: Love is mysterious; no one knows what "meant to be" really means; and all good relationships are probably a mixture of hard work and luck. But the way it seeks to demonstrate that message is almost too far-fetched to follow. The disasters are ridiculous, the mix-ups improbable, and the chemistry near-nonexistent, and what's left in between the outsize events comes off as a pretty cynical take on love and marriage. That said, there may be a nugget of truth here about the messiness of life, the craziness of what it means to fall for someone, and the unique problems facing modern lovers -- that is, if parents can look past multiple strip clubs, bar scenes, nagging-wife jokes, marijuana use, and some not-so-laughable bad choices involving children.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way the film portrays marriage. What do you think the movie was trying to say about the institution? Was it good or bad? Do you think it was realistic?
What does it mean to have cold feet before a big event? Have you ever had cold feet? What do you think it says about how you really feel about the occasion?
What attitudes does the film express about true love or finding "the one"? Do you think this is an accurate film about matters of the heart? Why, or why not? How do men talk about marriage in the film? What about women?
- In theaters: March 12, 1999
- On DVD or streaming: November 2, 1999
- Cast: Sandra Bullock, Ben Affleck, Steve Zahn, Maura Tierney, Blythe Danner
- Director: Bronwen Hughes
- Studio: DreamWorks
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Adventures, Science and Nature
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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