Top critical review
Wright-Penn, Newman and Costner too good for this garbage
on October 1, 2000
Wow. I have a real dilemma here. I'm sitting here trying to figure out a way to say as delicately as possible that this movie is a real piece of crap. I could start in on some sarcasm, because I really enjoy being sarcastic at the right moment....something like, go ahead, watch Message in a Bottle if you are on death row and have nothing better to do. Before I get too nasty, maybe I should explain.
First off, no, I didn't read the book. Maybe that would've helped. I think practically everyone I've ever known who read the book before seeing the movie, still said, "The book was better." So, knowing that, I say the book HAS to be better because the movie was so bad.
Message in a Bottle begins in a somewhat interesting fashion. Theresa, played by Robin Wright Penn, is jogging along the beach and finds a message in a bottle. It appears to be a love letter of sorts to a woman named Catherine. Theresa is so intrigued with this letter that she shows the lady at the inn, her co-workers, that dog of the neighbors that bites everyone....sorry, this sarcasm just takes over my body sometimes.
So, Theresa does research for a Chicago newspaper and a columnist for the paper decides to print the letter. It's content is intriguing to everyone, so, since she found the letter, she starts researching its origin. This is one of few things I found sort of interesting. The methods employed in tracking down the author of the message in a bottle kept me interested. But unfortunately, that part of the movie lasts about 5 minutes tops. Then, I was instantly bored again.
So, she tracks down the origin of the message, and goes on a mission to exploit, I mean FIND, this Ernest Hemmingway of bottled messages. Kevin Costner, who plays Garet Blake, churns out his usual monotone performance. Don't get me wrong. There are some Kevin Costner movies I really like. Honestly, I do. But, those have been the movies where the storyline fashioned itself around his calm, everyman demeanor. This movie moves too slowly and has too few other characters to support his usual "no acting is good acting" method. Kevin, buddy, just for fun, put some emotion in your character the next time.
I'm no psychologist, so I really don't know the professional theory on whether it's men or women who hold grudges longer. I think everyone will agree no one can hold a grudge longer than a teenage girl, but I'm talking about grown men and women, and their relationships with each other. However, talking about forgiveness, there is a really nice moment of forgiveness between two men in this film. Like I've said before, you love those moments in movies when your heart stops, just slightly. This is one such moment, even if every other moment stinks, this one is good.
For those of you reaching, hoping for something to love, you can love Paul Newman. He is the only reason to watch the movie, if you really feel you have to. He plays, Dodge, Garet's grumpy, surly father. You may be pleasantly reminded of the old codger in your life. So, it's kind of fun to watch movie characters who remind you of someone you already know. His role, though small, is practically the only redeeming part of this film. There's not much more I can say regarding plot, what little there is anyway, without spoiling the movie. I think this movie was supposed to be a chick flick, but, being a chick, I could hardly stand it. There isn't one shred of testosterone in this movie, so for those of you who enjoy a healthy dose of that, you've been duped. The whole movie could have been avoided if, instead of retreiving the message, the character of Theresa watches Martha Stewart and turns the bottle into a fabulous Christmas gift. Or maybe she could skip the creative stuff and just put some liquor in there and drink herself into a stupor instead. The plot moves along at a snail's pace and Robin Wright Penn and Kevin Costner deliver subpar performances. If I could put a message in a bottle about this movie: Forget It!