User Score
6.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 19 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 19
  2. Negative: 5 out of 19
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  1. bjc
    Sep 13, 2006
    10
    The book was better, but the movie was still wonderful. A tender romance story, with a very sad ending. The characters are endearing, and mesh well. I hope more movies are made like this.
  2. JessicaK.
    Nov 9, 2008
    10
    I thought the movie was a lovely romance. It is actually about a lie, but if you think about it almost everyone starts their relationships off as a lie. Do to pepole being so guarded in their ways. I thought it was romantic and although the ending was sad it was still a great movie.
  3. JackP.
    Aug 19, 2007
    2
    Cinematography was great; music above average; Newman turns in another piece of work for his by now bulging portfolio. Costner remains predictable, Wright Penn lies a Barby doll personal and career life. Storyline fraught with incongruities. One must willingly suspend disbelief at a level unparalleled by all but science fiction. Catherine was dying of a treatable disease of pregnancy, Cinematography was great; music above average; Newman turns in another piece of work for his by now bulging portfolio. Costner remains predictable, Wright Penn lies a Barby doll personal and career life. Storyline fraught with incongruities. One must willingly suspend disbelief at a level unparalleled by all but science fiction. Catherine was dying of a treatable disease of pregnancy, probably pre-eclampsia. Didn't anyone in the story ever figure out that possibility? And what experienced seaman, looking to a future with his new love, would sail into a storm to say goodbye to his past? And what were the odds that one day after the first letter was published in Chicago, someone would tie it to a letter in a restaurant in the Outerbanks based only on the stationery (remember, the third letter didn't have Catherine's name, and the article in the paper didn't publish the actual letter with the graphic, and even if it did, how many people read the Chicago Trib on the Outer Banks. And even if they do, they must have one hell of a circulation department to get that kind of delivery pre-Web.) And talk about meteoric career rises...one article and Wright Penn is in a corner office. But at least with the ending the story had, politically correctly Costner didn't renounce his simple natural life, nor did she have to renounce her successful career. Deus ex machina, Foley be thy name... At least when Costner's character said that cooking a steak was the best thing he did, that was believable acting. But to compare this film to The English Patient, as some have done, is absurd. The English Patient had some subtlety and was not full of contradictions. The same is emphatically not true of Message in a Bottle. Message in a Bottle is "Sleepless in Seattle with a Sailboat", but in the end it turns out to be the Clorox version of "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" meets "Pay it Forward". Expand
  4. StephenS.
    Sep 8, 2004
    2
    Paul Newman should stick to salad dressings. Robin Wright Penn had the wrong penn when she signed up for this one. Kevin Costner is completely out of touch with cinema today. Caleb Deschanel?s effortlessly derivative Late-High-Romantic Chocolate-Box cinematography is entirely in keeping with the snail-mail plot and lame situations. What?s it about? Naturally, the snazzy Chicago female Paul Newman should stick to salad dressings. Robin Wright Penn had the wrong penn when she signed up for this one. Kevin Costner is completely out of touch with cinema today. Caleb Deschanel?s effortlessly derivative Late-High-Romantic Chocolate-Box cinematography is entirely in keeping with the snail-mail plot and lame situations. What?s it about? Naturally, the snazzy Chicago female reporter instantly falls in love with the sad-sack Outer Banks dweeb who?s been sending ornate sea-borne messages to his wife who?s already died of ennui, er, terminal illness. Sorry, can?t go on, narcolepsy beckons. Expand
  5. PatC.
    Dec 29, 2003
    1
    Woman has totally dishonest relationship with man she admires, then he ... [Spoiler Omitted]. Every line is a pregnant pause where monosyllables are spoken at the rate of 1 every 10 seconds. But there's some nice cinematography of ocean stuff. Did I miss anything. Even the time you took to read my opinion is excessive for this rip-off of a movie.
  6. May 28, 2011
    10
    This film describes one of the most sensibles love stories ever to be told. It combines the struggle between the past and the present of a man that wants to punish himself for the misfortune he had with his lost wife. With no hope, helped by his father, agrees to take a chance with a possible new love, Teresa, a very smart and sensible journalist. The dialog between the characters isThis film describes one of the most sensibles love stories ever to be told. It combines the struggle between the past and the present of a man that wants to punish himself for the misfortune he had with his lost wife. With no hope, helped by his father, agrees to take a chance with a possible new love, Teresa, a very smart and sensible journalist. The dialog between the characters is breathtaking, the pauses are so intense, it feels so real, as if this is not a film, but indeed the scene of life, where emotions are mixed and the result is always unpredictable. Message in a bottle is about acceptance, about opening your heart after a terrible loss, about forgiveness and appreciation of love and destiny.
    I have seen Message in a bottle every year and it seems every time even better then the last.
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  7. Sep 29, 2014
    5
    A strange but nice love movie with dramatic shapes and decent storyline... now i'll gve it a 5/10 because i think it could've been it better. 5/10 also means that there's a 50% chance that you'll like it (depends on what movie are you looking for) No spoilers included
Metascore
39

Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 23
  2. Negative: 6 out of 23
  1. 50
    The climactic events are shameless, contrived, and wildly out of tune with the rest of the story. To saddle Costner, Penn and Newman with such goofy melodrama is like hiring Fred Astaire and strapping a tractor on his back.
  2. Garret is played by Kevin Costner, who should avoid all future roles that call for overalls and goggles and who this time crosses the line from teasingly laconic to stodgy.
  3. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    63
    At least this movie has flashes of humor, thought nearly all come courtesy of Newman. [12 February 1999, Life, p.8E]