On paper, the movie sounds unbearably schlocky, but Costner plays Garret the reluctant backcountry prince as mythic but also foxy and life size.
At least this movie has flashes of humor, thought nearly all come courtesy of Newman. [12 February 1999, Life, p.8E]
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.
Christian Science Monitor
The story is so sentimental that even soap-opera buffs may feel it outwears its welcome.
San Francisco Examiner
A movie that barely lives.
The film has its dumb points: too many shots of churning surf and lovers nestled in beach blankets, not to mention the premise that women find incommunicative, hulking shells like Blake the height of irresistibility. But it gets you.
The New York Times
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.
The A.V. Club
The depressing results will likely make viewers feel jerked around when it's all over.
Even the easily weepy may grow impatient with the snails pace of this melancholy romance.
Get out your hankies and weep for the heart-tugging disaster Message in a Bottle.