Lack of proper financing is apparent in this not entirely unenjoyable zany, romantic comedy.
From the languid tracking shots, to the Dutch angles, to the nutty characterisation, Accidental Love’s style has David O’Russell’s fingerprints all over it.Set in Indiana, Alice (Jessica Biel), a roller-skating waitress comes as close to one-dimensional love as any girl could hope for with state trooper boyfriend Scott (James Marsden). Not meant to be a character study but seemingly more a parody of today’s American issues, Accidental Love jumps right into the plot. Upon Scott’s ultra-romantic proposal date at Indiana’s finest pasta joint, Alice is squarely shot in the head with a nail gun.No blood. No gore. No insurance. (Insert plenty of American healthcare gags from Alice’s emergency room doctor, SNL’s Bill Hader). After a half-hearted attempt at fundraising and an extremely campy scene where the whole neighborhood shows up to the local veterinarian’s attempted brain operation, Alice decides she needs to go to Washington, D.C. There she seeks help from Howard Birdwell (Jake Gyllenhaal), a well meaning, airhead of a congressman.
Making the most of the folly and changeability of American politics, the majority of the narrative takes place in D.C. Tracy Morgan’s character, Keyshawn, adds racist humour to the mix (but it’s okay, because the black guy is making the jokes), whilst Gyllenhaal’s eye-popping ensemble of Congressman Birdwell is both hilariously theatrical (which was an enjoyable shift from other films he’s noted for - Prisoners and Brokeback Mountain come to mind) and made me suspicious that he might have snorted a line of coke before the first AD yelled “Action!”.
James Marsden excels at his typecast role as a garishly good-looking, though simpleminded, officer of the law, and Biel succeeds as a dopey ingénue not concerned about much of anything. Aside from the nail imbedded in her neocortex. More exaggerated comedy is added to the mix with the two-faced Representative Pam Hendrickson (Catherine Keener) and Speaker Bob McCoy (James Brolin), and who can forget the Girl Squaws and their toxic Girl Squaw cookies...
Accidental Love knows it’s a story and takes full advantage of the fact; inviting you along for the raucous and preposterous ride.
Technical hiccups were running rampant in this abandoned project of O’Russell’s. Pulling focus was clearly a challenge, and a particular visual of Alice was obviously doctored, and doctored badly. But the score really aided the storyline in this case and popular songs and sound effects boosted my morale enough to get through Jack Gyllenhaal gesturing to a crowd of children with moose genitalia in hand. The end credits rolled with outtakes from the film, and it did look like there were some genuinely fun moments amongst the cast. As an audience member, I do appreciate knowing the lucky few are real humans, too.
Entirely non burdensome, if ridiculous, the film won’t leave you wishing for more, but it is easy enough viewing with over-the-top humour dispersed throughout. If you enjoy screwball comedy, characters with the depth of a puddle, a few jabs at America, and a good bit of upbeat music, it’ll be easy enough to get through Accidental Love.
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