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Happy Accidents (R)
IFC Films
Official Site
Director: Brad Anderson
Producer: Susan Stover
Written by: Brad Anderson
Cast: Marisa Tomei, Vincent D’Onofrio, Nadia Dajani, Holland Taylor

Rating: out of 5

I know that some folks find Vincent D’Onofrio and/or Marisa Tomei annoying. For the record, these people should avoid this movie at all costs, because they are all over this picture and ten feet tall in the personality department.

Okay, now that they’re gone, let me tell you about this sweet romantic comedy from Brad Anderson, the director of NEXT STOP, WONDERLAND. Actually, HAPPY ACCIDENTS is more a romantic comedy meets speculative science fiction film, and does well in both genres.

The most important part of this film is the chemistry between Tomei and D’Onofrio, and it works in spades, weird as it is. Tomei plays sexy neurotic Ruby Weaver, a veteran of many failed relationships with men who regularly sees a therapist to try to fix herself. D’Onofrio, on the other hand, portrays Sam Deed from Dubuque, Iowa, a lovable but odd nursing home employee who has a secret that explains his terror of small dogs and lack of familiarity with different species of flowers—roses vs. carnations for example. Despite these handicaps, both come across not only as likeable, but plausibly in love, given their strange circumstances.

The entire plot hinges on Sam’s science-fiction secret and whether he’s telling the truth or merely the most lovable nutcase Ruby has ever met, and it would do audiences a disservice to reveal more about that here. Suffice to say that it’s a strange sequence of events involving more than one paradox, set in present-day (or last month’s present-day) New York City for no apparent reason other than allowing the characters to say “New York” every once in a while.

For fans of TWILIGHT ZONE-style speculative science fiction (albeit without some of the creepier elements) HAPPY ACCIDENTS provides mental exercises and fun terminology galore without ever stooping to showing futuristic gadgets or using special effects. Since it lacks those trappings of latter-day sci-fi films, I doubt it will even be characterized as science fiction in its promotion. I hope it doesn’t miss part of its potential audience by hiding its true nature, since I’m not certain folks who prefer more straightforward romantic comedies will appreciate the fun Anderson has with this premise.

Visually, the frame is almost constantly in motion, coming to rest during sequences involving still photographs and voiceover. These sequences usually involve memory, as about half of the plot emerges as Ruby tells her therapist (Taylor) the sequence of events leading up to the day before the climax. The point of view then shifts to also include Sam’s actions when he’s away from Ruby, and the tension builds as events hidden from Ruby are revealed as Sam’s memories.

My analysis and explanations don’t do this thoroughly enjoyable movie justice, however. HAPPY ACCIDENTS swept me away and let me love and care for Ruby, Sam, and their future. It’s also a reminder that the quirks of those we love aren’t worth losing them over. Take a date or anyone else you won’t be embarrassed really having a good time with. Anyone too cool for fun should be excluded on this one.

—Reed Oliver

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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