I have a little confession to make. I didn't see Speed 2 until last Wednesday. I hope this isn't too big of a disappointment to you. It certainly is nothing personal, I haven't gone to too many movies since my sequel movie going partner and I parted ways. She after all was the perfect person to go to movies with: great taste, timing in knowing when to laugh, a quiet laugh, and critical but still a fan of the medium. She even helped launch my movie career with our appearance together in Jingle All the Way (RIP Mr. and Mrs. H.) which has now grown with my starring role in the Secretary of State's Election Judge video (coming soon to the cable station near you!). It's hard to replace that. But this is only an excuse, I know this probably drops my status as your biggest fan, and I only hope I can make it up to you somehow.
I have to admit part of my procrastination in seeing Speed 2 was the feeling that nothing could quite top the first one. Plus I read and heard all the negative reviews and I didn't want to be disappointed. Still both Siskel and Ebert gave it a thumbs up, and my favorite mother of two said she liked it better than the first (probably because she has a thing for boats) so I knew at some point I would have to see it. And not to be a wise guy here but the movie didn't exactly stay all that long in the theaters (I remember seeing big billboards for it when I was in Japan but figured we probably didn't want to spend our limited time indoors viewing an American movie).
So after watching I admit I not only enjoyed it I thought so much of it I bought my own copy. I may be accused of being love blind but to tell you the truth I didn't exactly enjoy The Net, or A Time to Kill so it isn't like all my faculties are down when it comes to your career. The sequel starts out slowly and there is a certain melancholy that hangs over the picture because it seemed sad that the relationship between Jack (Keanu Reeves) and Annie didn't work out. But the movie has some fun with the philosophy that "relationships that begin under extreme circumstances never work out." The first scene of you in a driving test with Tim Conway brought a bit of a groan ("This is the end Alex...") but once you get on the boat with the maniacal villain (William Dafoe) the fun starts. This of course contrasts with the first movie which grabbed my attention immediately with the elevator scene while this one takes a bit to get going. But get going it does. Speed 2 may not have a flying bus but it has a careening cruise ship. If one can only see one sinking boat movie from 1997 this is the one to see because director Jan De Bont manages the near impossible of recapturing some of the energy of the first movie. I was a bit dismayed to see your comments about the movie, "I'll be the first to tell you it was a stinker. The first time I saw it, I just kind of laughed." Come on Sandra, don't give in to popular opinion. Stand up for your work.
Perhaps my lack of loyalty can be made up with my efforts to see your newest effort, Hope Floats right away. I rushed out of a Friday afternoon meeting and proceeded to break the speed limit to see it on the opening day. Despite having to listen to the ongoing commentary from the couple behind me (why is it the people that talk at movies never say anything at all clever?) I still enjoyed the movie. Sure I felt manipulated by the melodramatic story but your earnest belief in the material popped out on the screen. I may be typical of your male fans in that I tend to score high on the dork scale, but I don't think what attracts me to you is what attracts most other people to your movies. The wet shirt scenes in Speed 2 made me blush. What has always gotten me ever since I saw Demolition Man was your uncanny resemblance to my original movie going and much missed traveling partner. Something about your eyes, your lazy smile (and the connection between the two), your mannerisms and your inherent empathy and intuition reminds me so much of her that it brings a familiar anticipation into my heart every time I see you (it's odd how memories can live on in movies). In Hope Floats your character, Birdie, distills much of what my lost friend was about: her sadness and triumphant spirit; her spunkiness and admirable determination; the rare gift of understanding the unspoken as well as the spoken. I can see why you so wanted to make this movie- it tells the story of someone who gives of herself until she loses who she is but she learns not to forsake hope because as long as hope exists you can believe in yourself and your own ability to mend your own ways. The small quiet vignette like moments add up to something quite moving.
The movie perfectly captures the spirit of the Bob Dylan song that Garth Brooks covers. "When evening shadows (shatters?) and the stars appear, and there's no one there to dry your tears, I could hold you for a million years- to make you feel my love." You learn in life it's the beginnings we always struggle with and the endings that are almost always inevitably sad- so it is the middle that we must learn to appreciate. The place we are at is the result of the place we've been and may not be as good as the place we are going but it's the attitude we carry along that will get us by. In both Speed 2 and Hope Floats it is your undying spirit that is as appealing as ever. Though I don't know where I will be in life when your next film opens I do know I'll take the time and stand in line to see it.