Message in a Bottle (1999)

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE rates five hankies out of five.  What's sure to 
be one of '99's top tear-jerkers stars Robin Wright Penn (FORREST 
GUMP) as a Chicago journalist who discovers the title object while 
vacationing in New England.  So moved by the wrenching writ-- and 
aided by readers after her paper prints the letter-- she tracks down 
the author (Kevin Costner) to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  
He's a recently widowed boat-builder; she's a recent divorcee-with-
kid.  They bond, sail, walk on the beach, and, duh, immediately be-
gin falling in love.  (Mind you, she doesn't tell him about the let-
ters...)  And so it goes:  sunsets, crashing waves, cuddling times 
ten, and Paul Newman periodically stealing scenes as the Crusty Paul 
Newman Character.  (Actually, he plays the Postman's dad.)  Then 
comes hour two, with the long-awaited disclosure and the requisite 
tears, rain, and hurt feelings.  Strings swell; audience members 
sniffle; and, all along I'm told, the script stays pretty close to 
Nicholas Sparks' book, ending included.  (So bring dat Kleenex, la-
dies.)  With it's unyielding emphasis on emotional action over phy-
sical, this as estrogen-oozing a chick-flick as I've ever stereo-
typed.  The actors have a fabulous chemistry, though, which keeps the
blood flowing to the buttocks.  And the boats are awfully pretty.  
Too bad that's *Maine* doubling for coastal Carolina.  The shore-
line's all wrong; the landmark's aren't right; and what accents are 
there don't sound a damn bit Southern.  For this non-native-but-
still-lived-here-19-years, the lack of accurate local color was so 
distracting that I could barely pay attention to the story.  Memo to 
the filmmakers:  our state doesn't require front license plates.  
With John Savage, Illeana Douglas, and Robbie Coltrane wielding a 
not-bad American accent as Penn's character's colorful boss.  Luis 
Mandoki (WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN) directs.  (Rated "PG" I'd guess/
~120 min.)

Grade: C+

Copyright 1999 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies as MOVIE HELL: And The Women Wept

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