“Stephen Greene” is the new “Alan Smithee”.
Small-town, roller waitress Alice (Jessica Biel) seems to have most of her life in an ideal position. She’s happy, about to be engaged to her boyfriend (James Marsden), and has promises of a simple, painless life that she can hopefully grow old, fat and relax with. However, that all changes when a nail-gun strikes her head; which shouldn’t be much of a problem, except that Alice doesn’t have insurance. Meaning, when Alice is on the operating-table, she is denied the surgery that would allow for the nail to be taken out of head and have her healed. Alice isn’t very pleased with this, so in an act of anger, she joins up with a group of fellow victims who all hope to get free healthcare from the U.S. government. But, in order to have their dreams fulfilled, they need to have some sort of political representation – which is what they find in with congressman Howard Birdwell (Jake Gyllenhaal). Birdwell seems like he means well and honestly wants for Alice, as well as many others, to be healed, but he soon realizes that there’s plenty of problems standing in his way that may not allow for this to happen.
Without diving too much into the production history of Accidental Love, I’ll just try to keep it as simple as I can possibly be. Accidental Love, who’s initial title was the much-better Nailed, was directed by David O. Russell back in 2008 when, out of nowhere, finances fell through and filming for the movie, which was nearly 80% finished, was cut-off. Many, like myself, felt like the movie would never see the light of day and would join the long list of other movies that sound incredibly promising, but have been held back because of certain problems; whether they be legal, financial, publicity, etc.
So, with all that said, should Accidental Love seen the light of day?
The answer is a “no”, but it’s not a strong or direct one. Instead, it’s a disappointing one, because somewhere, if you squint long and hard enough, is a smart, entertaining, and incredibly funny satire that Russell seems to excel so well in. But that’s when you really force your eyes to do so; if not, you’ll most likely just find a choppy, messed-up, slightly interesting movie that seems to deal with important issues, yet, still doesn’t hit as hard as it should.
Honestly, there’s no telling if Accidental Love was a good movie even before things went awry in its production-department, but you can tell that everybody involved with it seemed to be game for some sort of wacky comedy. Whether or not that comedy actually works, is a totally different subject to talk about, but there’s no denying that the solidly impressive ensemble Russell was able to assemble here had no clue what they were doing. They did, and they’re totally game – it’s just that the movie isn’t.
Though I’m still not sold on Jessica Biel’s talents as an actress just yet, I have to giver her at least a portion of credit for dialing it all the way up to 11 with this performance and hardly ever coming down to a lesser-notch. She’s loud, over-the-top and camping it up, and even though the jokes don’t land when they’re at her expense, it’s clear that Biel was at least in on them and didn’t want people to think otherwise. Same goes for Jake Gyllenhaal who, in recent years, has proven to be on the more consistently engaging screen-presences we have working today, and here, seems like he’s just having fun. He, like Biel, is only doing what the script calls for him to do, but he seems so happy doing so, that the character flirts with the idea of being more than just a caricature of whom Russell was setting out to make fun of.
And for the rest of the cast, much is the same. Tracy Morgan’s funny; James Marsden’s funny; Catherine Keener’s funny; Paul Reuben’s funny; and hell, even Kirstie Alley’s funny. There’s no denying that everybody here seems to be having fun with where Russell takes them, and what he does with them, it’s just that the movie they’re working in doesn’t seem to gel. Like, at all.
Which is understandable, considering what happened behind-the-scenes. The movie seems like the kind of hatchet job that a studio would only perform, had they honestly felt as if they had something of a hit on their hands. But Accidental Love, believe it or not, never seems like a hit. And I’m not just talking from a critical stand-point – I’m speaking from the financial one.
Being nearly seven years after its initial release-date, Accidental Love feels awfully dated, especially in terms of its subject-matter. Living in the post-Obama society that we live in now, talking about, making fun of, and even trying to make a point about healthcare, its benefits, and its draw-backs, feel a little too late to the game. Are these points worth bringing up for people to hear and sometimes laugh at? Sure, but it’s all been said and done before, and sometimes more effectively so.
That being said, the movie isn’t totally terrible, miserable experience for people to sit through and watch.
Like mostly all of Russell’s movies, he seems to revel in the delight of having his characters just act wild, yell at one another and go seemingly more and more insane as the time rolls on by. Some of that can be fun to watch here, but for the most part, it seems spliced together in a movie that’s concerned with everything, yet not anything, at the same time. It wants to be clever and sly about the point it’s trying to reel on home about healthcare; it wants to be a touching, sweet tale about a relationship between two unorthodox individuals that might blossom into something beautiful; and it also wants to be farce about a bunch of goofy people, being just that.
Yet, it’s never any of these. Just a jumble.
Consensus: While not nearly as embarrassing as its shoddy production history may have you think, Nailed, err, I mean Accidental Love seemed like it had an objective early on, yet, ends up being nothing, about no one, and doing nothing for those who watch it.
3 / 10 = Crapola!!
Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images
Wow, thanks for the review! Although it sounds really bad, this makes me want to watch it even more! Haha 👍
Cheers for the heads-up, Dan. I’m normally a fan of Russell’s comedies and I will check this out just for curiosity but I won’t expect much.
I really like James Marsden but hadn’t heard of this one. Now I know why! Like Mark, I’m still compellled to check this one out also – but we won’t say you didn’t warn us! 😉
Started with this and then stopped.. because what the actual fuck! No, I won’t finish watching this one and will stick with Gyllenhaal’s later roles because man that man has grown! Biel never grows.. she annoys me, she is on my “pointless actress” list and I can’t seem to find the power to even like her over the top performances.
[…] Fellow movie buff Dan over at Dan the Man’s Movie Reviews wrote a tepid (at best) piece about a film he’d watched recently called Accidental Love. […]