Jamie and Patrick stride down the street towards St. Mary’s Church, Jamie’s nose still buried deep in the book. “Why are we going anywhere?” whines Jamie, “This book is really heating up, the cyborg just took Communion.” Patrick ignored him. For all its lack of literary merit, the book does seem to be giving them clues. Taking a deep breath Patrick busts into the church, half expecting a couple of cyborgs ready for some hand-to-hand combat. Instead a lone priest stands shocked in the middle of the empty nave. His eyes become wide and he starts to stumble backwards. “Los diablos… los robots,” he is able to sputter before turning and fleeing out a side entrance. Well, they certainly seem to be on the right track. “Ahem,” they hear and wheel around, hands ready for karate. A woman leans back lazily in one of the pews. “So I guess it’s true,” she says, a smirk on her face, “los diablos came back looking for a fight. Don’t worry, I’m not here to fight you, so relax. I’m here to find out what the hell is going on with the Bad Movie Twins. The name’s Lindsey Appleton, hardscrabble investigative reporter… and I presume you two aren’t los diablos.” Jamie and Patrick shake their heads. When they ask what she’s found out so far, Lindsey shrugs and tosses them an object. “This was here when I arrived, but it’s addressed to you, so I assume you better be the ones to read it.” Jamie and Patrick look at what they hold in their hands… a bottle. But not just any bottle. This bottle has a message in it. When they pull it free it just has two words on it, “page 473,” and Jamie’s already flipping to that place in the book. That’s right! With a based-on-a-book series comes great responsibility… but also mostly reading Nicholas Sparks novels. We still have quite a number of them to get through so we thought we should start at the beginning. Not his first book but the first one that got adapted, Message in a Bottle. Let’s go!
Message in a Bottle (1999) – BMeTric: 22.4; Notability: 40
StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 30.4%; Notability: top 34.4%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 32.6% Higher BMeT: Baby Geniuses, Inspector Gadget, Universal Soldier: The Return, Wing Commander, Wild Wild West, The Haunting, Dudley Do-Right, Bats, The Rage: Carrie 2, Virus, The Mod Squad, The Bachelor, Breakfast of Champions, The Astronaut’s Wife, Eye of the Beholder, Superstar, My Favorite Martian, Random Hearts, Teaching Mrs. Tingle, Simply Irresistible, and 32 more; Higher Notability: Wild Wild West, Inspector Gadget, The 13th Warrior, End of Days, My Favorite Martian, Snow Falling on Cedars, Idle Hands, Joan of Arc, The Haunting, The Story of Us, The Out-of-Towners, Crazy in Alabama, Double Jeopardy, Random Hearts, Instinct, Stigmata, Dudley Do-Right, In Too Deep, The General’s Daughter, The Other Sister, and 9 more; Lower RT: Baby Geniuses, The Mod Squad, Universal Soldier: The Return, Friends & Lovers, The Bachelor, Eye of the Beholder, Wing Commander, Chill Factor, Virus, Body Shots, End of Days, Jawbreaker, My Favorite Martian, The King and I, Lost & Found, Molly, Gloria, Idle Hands, Random Hearts, The Astronaut’s Wife and 42 more; Notes: Low BMeTric, but a surprisingly high Notability, especially since this is the first Nicholas Sparks film. Looking at this list mostly reminds me that we have a ton to do still as far as 1999 is concerned.
RogerEbert.com – 2.0 stars – “Message in a Bottle” is a tearjerker that strolls from crisis to crisis. It’s curiously muted, as if it fears that passion would tear its delicate fabric; even the fights are more in sorrow than in anger, and when there’s a fistfight, it doesn’t feel like a real fistfight–it feels more like someone thought the movie needed a fistfight ’round about then.
(That is pretty brutal. Ebert mentions later in the review that he hadn’t read the book, so indeed, he wouldn’t really know whether all of this makes sense with regards to the book, not like that really matters.)
(I remember when this movie came out … and yet I don’t remember this trailer. Because I feel like I thought this was some Sleepless in Seattle, “lonely heart looking for love, going to do some silliness with a message in a bottle” story. But this is like “my wife died and I’m real sad, can you fix me, I’m a brooding and broken man” type story … somehow that is far less interesting than a story about a weirdo who thinks bottles in the ocean are a dating app or whatever.)
Directors – Luis Mandoki – (Known For: When a Man Loves a Woman; White Palace; Voces inocentes; La vida precoz y breve de Sabina Rivas; Gaby: A True Story; Future BMT: Angel Eyes; Born Yesterday; Trapped; BMT: Message in a Bottle; Notes: Gaby: A True Story was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. From Mexico City, he’s also made a few Documentaries, particularly about the 2006 election in Mexico.)
Writers – Nicholas Sparks (novel) – (Known For: The Notebook; Future BMT: The Last Song; Nights in Rodanthe; Dear John; The Lucky One; The Best of Me; The Longest Ride; BMT: Message in a Bottle; The Choice; Safe Haven; A Walk to Remember; Notes: It is just an incredible number of books he’s had made into films. Has twin daughters.)
Gerald Di Pego (screenplay) (as Gerald DiPego) – (Known For: Sharky’s Machine; Phenomenon; Words and Pictures; Little Murder; W; Future BMT: Angel Eyes; The Forgotten; Instinct; BMT: Message in a Bottle; Notes: Almost exclusively wrote television. Including an episode of Murder, She Wrote where Jessica probes a 20-year-old unsolved murder after attending the funeral of a New Orleans jazz great.)
Actors – Kevin Costner – (Known For: Let Him Go; Hidden Figures; Man of Steel; Molly’s Game; Dances with Wolves; The Untouchables; The Highwaymen; Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves; Waterworld; JFK; No Way Out; Mr. Brooks; Field of Dreams; Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit; The Art of Racing in the Rain; Silverado; Open Range; Tin Cup; Draft Day; The Big Chill; Future BMT: Play It to the Bone; Dragonfly; 3 Days to Kill; Swing Vote; The Bodyguard; Criminal; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; Revenge; Black or White; The War; BMT: Rumor Has It…; 3000 Miles to Graceland; The Postman; Message in a Bottle; The Guardian; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Director, and Worst Actor for The Postman in 1998; Winner for Worst Actor, and Worst Remake or Sequel for Wyatt Earp in 1995; Winner for Worst Actor for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves in 1992; Nominee for Worst Actor in 1993 for The Bodyguard; in 1996 for Waterworld; in 2000 for For Love of the Game, and Message in a Bottle; and in 2002 for 3000 Miles to Graceland; Nominee for Worst Screen Couple in 1995 for Wyatt Earp; and in 2002 for 3000 Miles to Graceland; and Nominee for Worst Actor of the Century in 2000 for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Postman, The Postman, Waterworld, Waterworld, Wyatt Earp, and Wyatt Earp; Notes: Rumors are swirling that he might be leaving Yellowstone! I’ve never seen it, but I am always intrigued by westerns.)
Robin Wright – (Known For: Wonder Woman 1984; Wonder Woman; Forrest Gump; Blade Runner 2049; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; The Princess Bride; Everest; Moneyball; State of Play; Unbreakable; Adore; Beowulf; A Most Wanted Man; The Pledge; The Last Castle; White Oleander; A Christmas Carol; New York, I Love You; The Conspirator; State of Grace; Future BMT: Toys; Justice League; BMT: Message in a Bottle; Notes: Won a Golden Globe for House of Cards. Her career started on the Soap Opera Santa Barbara. Was married to Sean Penn for nearly 15 years.)
Paul Newman – (Known For: Cars; Cool Hand Luke; Road to Perdition; The Towering Inferno; The Sting; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; Slap Shot; The Verdict; The Color of Money; Nobody’s Fool; The Hustler; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Hud; The Hudsucker Proxy; Exodus; Twilight; Hombre; What a Way to Go!; Torn Curtain; Silent Movie; Future BMT: When Time Ran Out…; Harry & Son; BMT: Message in a Bottle; Notes: Was married to his second wife for 50 years prior to his death. Won an Oscar for The Color of Money, and then started a salad dressing company which was non-profit and donated all profits to charity. It has apparently raised over $550 million for charity.)
Budget/Gross – $80,000,000 / Domestic: $52,880,016 (Worldwide: $118,880,016)
(Amazingly terrible performance if the budget is to be believed. I guess a Kevin Costner rom com would have been looking for $100 million at the time? So yeah, it didn’t really do great overall I guess.)
Rotten Tomatoes – 32% (12/38): Handsome-looking but dramatically inert, Message in a Bottle maroons a formidable cast in a trite romance that lacks spark.
(But it doesn’t lack Nicholas Sparks (da dum chhhhhh). Reviewer Highlight: Adapted from Nicholas Sparks’ 1998 best-seller, ”Message in a Bottle” isn’t going to win any awards, but it’s a true all-stops-out gusher, the sort of solemn contemporary hankie-fest in which a sweet, smart, lonely-at-the-core professional woman … proceeds to fall for the Last Romantic Man. – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly)
Poster – Sad Love 2: Even Sadder
(I mean, that poster is getting butts in seats, let’s not get it twisted. It does its job and I suspect it does it well. But couldn’t get a little better with the font? I’m gonna come in at a B. Like the overall sunset orange color tone as well.)
Tagline(s) – A story of love lost and found. (B-)
(I can see what they were going for. Not totally terrible, weaving in “Lost and Found” into the tagline along with “Love Lost”. So kind of a twist of two common phrases. Not clever enough though and a little clunky.)
Keyword – based on novel
Top 10: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), Goodfellas (1990), Forrest Gump (1994), Catch Me If You Can (2002), Jojo Rabbit (2019), Emma. (2020), Homefront (2013), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), The Invisible Man (2020)
Future BMT: 72.2 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011), 47.5 The Dark Tower (2017), 43.8 Priest (2011), 43.6 Allegiant (2016), 43.4 The Rhythm Section (2020), 42.2 Pan (2015), 41.3 Addicted (2014), 40.8 The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), 40.8 Ben-Hur (2016), 39.7 Eat Pray Love (2010);
BMT: After (2019), Dolittle (2020), Fifty Shades of Grey (2015), Hunter Killer (2018), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), Fifty Shades Freed (2018), The 5th Wave (2016), The Three Musketeers (2011), Striptease (1996), The Circle (2017), Warcraft: The Beginning (2016), Fifty Shades Darker (2017), Death Wish (2018), A Walk to Remember (2002), The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009), The Choice (2016), Conan the Barbarian (2011), Kiss the Girls (1997), Jumper (2008), The Snowman (2017), The Host (2013), Something Borrowed (2011), Around the World in 80 Days (2004), Mortdecai (2015), Eragon (2006), I Am Number Four (2011), Vampire Academy (2014), Dragonball Evolution (2009), The 13th Warrior (1999), Poseidon (2006), Seventh Son (2014), Cheaper by the Dozen (2003), The Postman (1997), The Haunting (1999)
(Looks to be in that last little wave of the 90s just prior to when they started making a ton of YA adaptations and things like Harry Potter, and instead they were harkening back to when you picked a wall-liked book and made a straight adaptation from the material (without sequels in mind).)
Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 16) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Kevin Costner is No. 1 billed in Message in a Bottle and No. 2 billed in 3000 Miles to Graceland, which also stars Kurt Russell (No. 1 billed) who is in Tango and Cash (No. 2 billed), which also stars Sylvester Stallone (No. 1 billed) who is in Expendables 3 (No. 1 billed), which also stars Jason Statham (No. 2 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 1 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 16. If we were to watch Toys, Jack, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 14.
Notes – After the scene where Kevin Costner gets involved in a fight, his lip is bleeding. He puts his hand to it and looks at the blood. This was not part of the script. Another actor, Steve Mellor (Man on Dock) was scripted to pull Costner away from the fight from behind. When Mellor’s arms came around, he accidentally gave Costner a bloody lip. After the take, Mellor apologized to Costner for the accident. Costner said not to worry about it; that he ended up turning it into something. And, in fact, the director ended up using that shot. (fun fact)
This is the 1st film adaptation from a Nicholas Sparks novel.
The sites that were finally chosen for most of the shooting of the scenes of Garret’s hometown were Northport and Popham Beach, Maine. Over $250,000. of renovations were done to the seasonal home in Popham that became Garret’s house, including the addition of the room which held Catherine’s artwork and the adjacent living room with fireplace (faux). At the end of filming the owner of the house demanded that it be returned to its original state costing the production company nearly as much to undo. (Ha!)
The producers originally planned to film on Tangier Island, Virginia, USA, but some members of the town council objected to the drinking, cursing and sex in the movie and demanded script revisions in exchange for shooting permission. Warner Brothers then tried Martha’s Vineyard near Chilmark, Massachusetts, USA, but the Chilmark Conservation Commission turned down a request to build a temporary 3,000-square-foot house on stilts in the dunes near Chilmark Pond. (They would, that is an incredibly irresponsible thing to do. Think about the poor Piping Plovers you lunatics!!)
This movie is set in North Carolina, but at the end of the movie when Dodge is brought to Garrets boat the Game Wardens sleeve patches have the state of Maine Logo. (Huuuuuuuge error!)
The painting in Catherine’s studio that Dodge carried outside during Garrett’s encounter with Catherine’s brother is “Girl With Lantern” by the American impressionist painter Helen Maria Turner. The painting, which was produced in 1904, is housed in the Greenville Museum of Art in Greenville, South Carolina, USA.
Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Kevin Costner, 2000)