Message in a Bottle Movie Review

Most days I would love to be in the shoes of people in Hollywood. Much as participating in the play is every secret playwright's dream, and painting the picture is every secret photographer's dream, being in THE BIZ is the secret dream of every movie critic I know. We apply to film school. We try to make movies. Some of us even write them, such as Roger Ebert, author of the movie Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

But, one person to another, I wouldn't be in Robin Wright Penn's shoes if you paid me a million dollars.

Robin Wright Penn, you see, is married to Sean Penn, who snubs the Hollywood mainstream, and, if there are two words beyond "It Sucked" that describe Message In a Bottle, "achingly mainstream" would have to be my choice. Predictable to a T, bitingly sweet, it just wasn't a movie I could connect with. It is not the chick flick in the aspect that it is chic to go to, as She's all That would be, but instead the chick flick, as in the perfect example of a reason not to make movies like that.

Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, the screenplay comes off as an uninspired, unintelligent event. The attempts that it makes to insert professionalism and lyricism into the script come off as downright stupid as the attempts often made in techno-thrillers to take on serious subjects, such as medical ethics (should the doctor play God?) or religion itself.

The basic plot of the terribly contrived story is that Teresa (Robin Wright Penn) discovers a message in a bottle while jogging in Virginia, consequently, she publishes this in the Chicago Sun Times and begins her search for the writer, a woman on a mission and in love (has Hollywood ever stopped insulting you, ladies?). What she finds is Kevin Costner.

Robin Wright Penn, formerly Jenny of Forrest Gump fame, does a nose-dive on the bad-roles-for-good-people tree and hits every branch on the way down, coming off as a stupid main character that can be connected to only by people of similar intelligence. Kevin Costner, straight off of The Postman, disappoints yet again, and proves that in Hollywood, sex appeal sells. His character, at least to me, came off as a Homo-repressed idiot.

Paul Newman, the only good part of last summer's Twilight, disappoints yet again as the father of Kevin Costner in the movie I love to hate.

Now, I'm sure a lot of people liked this tale because it filled the likeable criterion: sweet, moderately funny, character-driven with a storyline so formula that it could have very well been a movie done without a script. But, as for me, and any other movie buff, you will dread this film. This is a symptom of the greater disease of the terribly cliche films that Hollywood turns out.

What else to bash? Oh, yeah, the direction. The direction consists of shots stolen from different movies: sex during a thunderstorm, a boat being launched, grainy film met to represent the past, a complete absence of sound during emotional pseudo-tension, and let's not forget the lightning flashing as Kevin Costner discovers the secret of Robin Wright Penn.

Personally, I think it's time to send a message to Hollywood. Don't just stop making mainstream trash, but stop making films that rub off as insulting to women because they portray them as drooling idiots. And worse for the Y-chromosome, don't make any that portray all men as Kevin Costners, make them jerks, and still have the main character fall in love with them.

I plead you, producers, hack writers, directors, help me out. Make a smart character for a change, please.

Return to sender.

Cast & Crew

Director :


bigsurcal's picture


Message in a Bottle was a beautifully photographed film with great music and characters that I could empathize with. My son died 12 years ago and I could definetely connect to Costner's character in the film. I still have my sons clothes in the house and it took me many years before I could change anything in his room. If you have never lost a loved one, you wouldn't understand. I love the sea very much and the seascapes were magnificent. I read the book, and hated it, and I have no idea how they could have made such a wonderful film from it.

6 years 10 months ago
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soso's picture


after watching this charming breath taking moviei regained my trust that there is love in this tough world,even if it is not visible. and all we have to do is to look for it with open souls.

6 years 1 month ago
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Nicholaus cage's picture

Nicholaus cage

Forget about direction & technical errors in film, The one thing that i'll say at this point is - You'll like this movie if you're in real love with someone, particularly if he/she is not in this world, Such a nice feeling of loving someone so passionately - I think that love is the only thing that can give you the feeling of heaven on this earth

5 years 4 months ago
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Message in a Bottle Rating

" Unbearable "

Rating: PG-13, 1999

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