For dumbshits who like staring at Hallmark greeting cards for two straight hours, boy have I got the movie for you. "Message in a Bottle" is a sugar-sweet, paper-thin piece of horseshit that cost too much and doesn't reflect anything like real sentiment. It is exactly as interesting as the "For a Very Special Wife" card I got Mrs. Filthy for her birthday.
Speaking of Mrs. Filthy, she obviously wanted to spend her Valentine's Day alone because she packed me off to the cineplex all by my lonesome. I wanted to stay home today and take a break. But no, Mrs. Filthy said that if I wanted to be a movie critic, I had to sit through the shit and the cream. Then she pestered me until I felt guilty and agreed to go to the theater.
Damn you, woman! Watching this stinker was like drinking diarrhea: it went down easy, but boy did it ever taste awful.
Robin Wright-Wooden-Actress-Penn is a researcher for the Chicago Tribune. While pining over her busted marriage, she discovers a bottle with a message in it. It's a love letter from a man to his dead wife. To her, the letter is so damn touching and heartfelt that she takes it back and shows it to all her co-workers. Her boss puts it in the paper, and now every lonely, "Cat Fancy" reading woman in the greater Chicago area is pining for this guy. Penn gets pissed off, because it is wrong to expose this letter in the paper, but it's perfectly all right to show it to every Miss Lonely Hearts she knows. What kind of nonsense is that?
Meanwhile, like any good stalker would, Wright-Blah-Penn puts all her resources into tracking down the anonymous writer. We know it's Kevin Costner because his name is on all the movie's ads, but Wright-Pouty-Penn doesn't. So, we must endure her looking for someone we know she will find. When she finally finds him, she falls in love with him, and he with her. They go round and round, him trying to get over his bloated, worm-riddled dead wife enough to love Penn and Penn alone. She moons away for him. And Costner's father, Paul Newman, is the "funny" crotchety old guy with more wisdom than anyone ever gave him credit for. Costner finds out the letter was sent out to the world and he gets mad. But not too mad to end the movie.
Finally, in an ending that took too long to get to, just when Costner is going to give up his dead wife and start fucking Penn full-time, the movie-makers give us what we wanted from the first minute of the movie: Costner's death.
That Costner kicks the bucket is easily the best thing about this painful canker sore of a movie. It was the only thing in the movie I didn't know was coming. The rest was all predictable, glossy tripe. We know Wright-Penn will find Costner. We know they will fall in love. We know there will be some difficulty to them getting it on. What we don't know is how fucking long it will take, and how painfully uninteresting the trip will be. It hurt more than the time my doctor accidentally splintered a wooden rod in my urethra and I peed splinters for two weeks.
The movie is about perfect people with perfect jobs in perfect settings. Like a Goddamn greeting card world. It never approaches the real world, it doesn't even get close enough to make me give a rat's ass.
Costner and Wright-Penn don't act. The just stare moonily at each other and the sea and act as mopey as the fucking teenagers that ditch school to hang around the gas station. Actually, that's all they are supposed to do. It did not occur to the moviemakers to give either character any more depth than the L.L. Bean catalog models they look like. Here's a clue, moviemakers: if you want us to care about characters, give them interesting personalities. I don't give a flying fuck if a boat-builder and a researcher fall in love because neither is never more than boring yuppies in nice sweaters. If I wanted to know more about boring yuppies I'd ask more questions of the assholes in the SUVs that use the Ralston Amoco's full-service bay.
Also, give the characters some flaws. I swear to God these characters were created from imagination. Their flaws are designed to make them look better. Sort of like the answers liars give during job interviews when asked "What are your weak points?"
This movie looks awful pretty. The Chicago Tribune has the best looking, cleanest newsroom ever. For a researcher, Penn has an incredibly nice townhome. Costner's been moping over his wife for two years, but his house is impeccably decorated and dusted. I can guarantee you that if Mrs. Filthy kicks the bucket, I'll be going on a two-year long beer and pizza binge, and the Goddamn boxes will pile up.
Also, nobody ever has to work. Costner fixes up boats, but we see him do it for about two minutes. Wright-Penn can go research one little fact for a week in North Carolina. Bullshit, Hollywood moviemakers.
Going back to the Hallmark card analogy, the dialog of this movie was drawn entirely from those stupid cards. It's stilted, phony, annoying, and I really didn't want to hear it.
"Message in a Bottle" is a pretty piece of shit,
but it still stinks and it still sticks to your shoe. Steer clear
of this two-finger flop.