“Wait! She has no insurance.”
It was Tupac who (posthumously) once said that unconditional love is the type of stuff that doesn’t wear off or fade. I wonder what he would say about Accidental Love. Alice Eckle (Jessica Biel) is a small-town, somewhat dumb waitress dating an equally, if not more dense police officer boyfriend Scott (James Marsden). Things have been going well, and Scott believes it is time to ask the question.
Seconds after Alice says yes, a stray nail fired from a nail gun lodges itself in her head, which forces the fresh fiancee to the emergency room. About a second before she is to go under for removal, the operations is ceased, due to the fact that she has no health insurance. With the nail messing up her sexual equilibrium, Alice ends up realizing that the only way that she will get the help she needs will be to go straight to the top. It is off to Washington, D.C to speak with Congressman Howard Birdwell (Jake Gyllenhaal), a well-meaning but spineless government official.
There are two ways one could look at Accidental Love, under the moniker Nailed when production first started in 2008. Really, neither way would be wrong. The first way would be from the unfortunate standpoint. An insane amount of issues plagued this production, from lack of financial backing, to the blowups and walkouts of the cast. And that is only the confirmed stuff. The second way would be to see this as it as, in a pseudo chicken and egg scenario. Is this is dismal movie because of the troubles? Or would it have been a dismal movie even with a smooth delivery?
May be best to ask director Stephen Greene that question, known better as David O. Russell, who exited the production in 2010. Quickly, it’s seen that he’s trying to make a smart and biting satire on the United States health care system and government. Not an amazing story, but certainly relevant. Problem is, like a few of Russell’s other works, there is a lack of structure, perhaps due to its lack of being grounded in reality.
Almost all great satires feature exaggeration, but are still able to feel realistic as well. The various figures and events to drive the plot forward in this one include some type of moon base, Girl Scouts, and a circle of Shaman fire. If this sounds messy, that is because it is, only barely improved by an average ending that is the best aspect of this film.
Talking about story with Russell-directed films is kind of a moot point, as the man has said before that he “…hates plots…all about characters.” That approach can be all well and good, but the characters better be on point if so, people that are interesting to spend some time with. There isn’t enough time spent to care about any of them, and the linchpin event in the plot happens five minutes into Accidental Love, hardly enough time to get a feel for anyone, especially Alice. It is a precursor to the rest of the runtime, which again, moves with little to no natural progression.
Tons of stars are present in Stephen Greene’s production, but sadly none amount to enough to raise this to a below average level. Even in an ensemble, often one person is at the forefront, that person being Jessica Biel here. While she isn’t given much to go off of, a feeling exists that even if more substantial material was given, Biel may not be able to run with it. She is trying, but when she needs to be funny, it is sad, and when she needs to be dramatic, it is hard to buy.
Her character spends time with Jake Gyllenhaal’s, in more of a whimsical role for him, and their chemistry is tepid at best. Most of the comedy, when it does occasionally land, comes from James Marsden and Tracy Morgan. That isn’t to say that they are consistent in providing hilarity. Both are saddled with character aspects that are funny the first two times (Marsden puts everything into percentages, Morgan is a horny black guy with a prolapsed anus), but get old fast after the nth time. Bill Hader, Beverly D’Angelo, Kirstie Alley, and more make appearances, but none to remember.
Whether it is 2008 or 2015, Accidental Love is nothing to fall for. The only nail that this one needed is that of the proverbial one in the coffin.
Photo credits go to blu-ray.com, imdb.com, and filmandtvnow.com.
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