In the case of Accidental Love, that’s not strictly true. Although, tonally, it is an absolute mess, it has some deliciously funny, absurdly farcical moments and performances, and its colour palette makes it feel like someone has pasted bubblegum onto your eyeballs.
The story is kind of a Ms Smith Goes to Washington style-tale; Alice (Biel) gets a nail lodged in her head in an unfortunate accident, causing all sorts of loopy behaviour. When it transpires that she doesn’t have the insurance or money necessary to cover the operation, she travels to Capitol Hill with some of her similarly-aggrieved friends (including a spectacular one-two punch of Tracy Morgan and Kurt Fuller) and inspires wide-eyed senator Jake Gyllenhaal to take up her crusade for healthcare reform. Love and wacky hijinx ensue.
As previously described, the tone is completely batsh*t. You’ll be sitting there for the first half an hour trying to figure out exactly what kind of film you’re watching; it’s marketed as a romcom, but plays like some forgotten screwball comedy from last century. It is slathered with modern, risqué innuendo, but somehow retains a wholesome heart. It’s completely all over the show.
Jessica Biel gives good naiveté and craziness (due to the aforementioned nail in her skull). Jake Gyllenhaal sells his novice politicking crusader act. The standout is probably James Marsden, the not-as-cool-as-he-thinks bike cop, Biel’s would-be fiancée at the onset of the film; if people didn’t know it already, he confirms it here – the man has great comedic chops.
In the end, the film lacks focus, and its meandering tonality is not for everyone. It’s hard to say who the film is for, and easy to see why Russell ultimately distanced himself from it – but not to the extent that he did. There is most assuredly something here to be enjoyed, but the only way to find out whether you’ll enjoy it or not is to try it.
Review by Daniel Woburn
[SRA value=”2.5″ type=”YN”]