Emergency? It’s a very interesting word. A gunshot wound through a belly that is bleeding, that’s an emergency. This girl’s not bleeding. She can get right up and walk out of here. It might be an emergency in a week, or a month, but not today. I’m sick of 25 year olds coming in here and expecting our services for free!
Those of you that have been reading my site for at least six months will have seen me talk about the film Nightcrawler twice. The first was where I ranked it as my top mainstream release of 2014, and the second was when it made it into my Top 20 films of all time. One of the main reasons for this was the incredible performance of Jake Gyllenhaal.
I had never particularly been impressed with Gyllenhaal. He was one of those actors that whilst never awful, he was never, ever the most memorable part of the movie. However, his performance as Lou in Nightcrawler showed me that he is capable of brilliance and I decided to pay attention on his future release.
Soon after that came the trailer for this film and I thought that it looked fairly unusual, and I’m always up for unusual films, however, I was a little unsure about it after I saw it was filmed several years ago, meaning that it was likely to be one of Jake’s previously luke-warm performances, but we’ll see.
I must admit to being slightly apprehensive for more reasons that just it being from pre-Nightcrawler Jake, but also the horrendous score on IMDB of just 4.1 at the time of writing.
Alice (Biel) is loving her small town American life. She works at a 1950s inspired restaurant and is dating the town’s top police officer, Scott (Marsden). During a shift Alice learns from her parents (Beverley D’Angelo and Steve Boles) that Scott has asked permission to marry Alice, and he officially proposes during a romantic meal at the town’s best restaurant. However, there is some construction going on nearby and the worker soon slips and falls onto a nearby table. His nail gun shoots Alice in the head at point blank and wedges a nail two inches beneath her scalp.
As she is about to get surgery, it is revealed that she chose not to get health insurance and the doctors refuse to operate. In desperation, Alice and her parents turn to a vet (Kirstie Alley) to help out, but the surgery only makes things worse and causes brain damage. Not knowing how to cope with the situation, Scott quickly calls off the engagement.
Several weeks later Alice’s life has fallen apart. She has lost her job and all hope, that is until she sees a campaign for the election of Howard Birdwell (Gyllenhaal), and she automatically assumes he will help her. She makes the trip up and the two start a relationship and having sex within minutes of meeting each other. Suddenly Alice finds herself thrust into a political minefield as she tries to get legislation passed that will help people with their medical costs if they do not have insurance.
Awful Rating Deserved?
I write this review a few days after the legendary Christoper Lee passed away and one of his most famous quotes was “Every actor has to make terrible films from time to time, but the trick is never to be terrible in them.” That is something that everyone should have taken into account before agreeing to be in this film.
I’m not going to beat about the bush, Accidental Love is one of the most nonsensical pieces of shit I have ever had the misfortune to watch. I mentioned earlier that this film currently has a rating of 4.1 on IMDB and I don’t mean this in any uncertain terms, that is far, far, far too high and it is a crime that this film is not in the bottom 100 films on that website. There’s not a single positive to be had in entire film.
It’s hard to think of where to start with this review and even more difficult is trying to convey just how awful it is.
Let’s start with the obvious and that is the storyline. The character of Alice, in the space of what looks like two or three days, goes from being a complete nobody that sees a senator on TV, to having meetings with senators, governors and attending a politician’s funeral, and not only attending, but speaking at it. I don’t care how lucky you are, that would never happen in real life and it’s just complete and total poppycock. Yes, I brought out the P word!
The main problem with the plot is that it is just a series of deus ex machinas that never seem to end. Now, for those that don’t know what a deus ex machina is, here is the official definition from Wikipedia….
“Deus ex machina (Latin: [ˈdeʊs ɛks ˈmaː.kʰɪ.naː]: /ˈdeɪ.əs ɛks ˈmɑːkiːnə/ or /ˈdiːəs ɛks ˈmækɨnə/; plural: dei ex machina) is acalque from Greek ἀπὸ μηχανῆς θεός (apò mēkhanês theós), meaning “god from the machine”. The term has evolved to mean a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability or object. Depending on how it is done, it can be intended to move the story forward when the writer has “painted himself into a corner” and sees no other way out, to surprise the audience, to bring the tale to a happy ending, or as a comedic device.”
Every single time any of the characters want something to happen, it happens without any real difficulty and via the loosest of connections. For example, when the girl scouts release a video to criticise the proposed moon base, two of the girls are seen holding hands and the government release a video to counter them. It successfully derails the movement based on the very loose theme of child lesbianism (their phrase).
If those last few sentences don’t tell you everything you need to know about the nonsensical nature of the film then nothing will.
For a supposed comedy, it fails on every single level. Much like the film I last reviewed, Welcome to Me, it seems to approach itself with the belief that being random automatically makes it funny. That is about as far from the truth as you can get. Yes, in moderation, random things can be amusing, but not time after time after time. Comedy is probably the second hardest genre to try and pull of a genuine emotion from the viewers, behind horror, and whilst everyone has different tastes, reading comments from all over the internet, not a single person found this comedy funny.
It’s not helped by completely unnatural dialogue from the characters throughout the film and none of them talk or act like a real person would. I obviously appreciate that it’s a film and the characters are fictional but even then they have to somewhat believable.
The two main relationships in the movie are both poorly executed and it is clear from the beginning of both relationships that none of the actors involved have any chemistry with each other. The relationship between Alice and Howard is one of the most unnatural romantic relationships I have ever seen in film, it feels so unbelievably forced that you never, ever feel settled when they’re on screen. Biel and Gyllenhaal just don’t work well as an on-screen couple and that leads me onto my next mini-rant, the casting.
Casting is all over the place and the only person who fits their character is Jessica Biel (please note how I carefully avoided saying that her performance was good). One of the oddest casting choices was Paul Reubens playing a CIA style security guard. Now, I’m not saying that Reubens did a bad job, but it’s hard to take him seriously as a security guard when he has spent most of his career portraying Pee Wee Herman. Now, I appreciate that he probably doesn’t want to be typecast and that’s fair enough, but there are just some actors that will never shake of their roles and that only chance he would have would be to leave the genre of comedy, and his casting was just bizarre.
I’m going to end the review with the most disappointing part of the film for me, the performance of Jake Gyllenhaal. I mentioned in my opening bit that Nightcrawler changed my opinion on Gyllenhaal’s acting ability, and I really wish that this hadn’t been the next film of his that I had seen. A film named Southpaw is coming out soon in which he looks engaging again, but in Accidental Love he puts in the performance that you would typically associate with the actor.
This film was made several years ago and it definitely fits in with the Gyllenhaal performances from the pre-Nightcrawler era, but even then I can’t let that excuse him for was an undeniably cringeworthy showing in which he gives off all of the same characteristics and traits that failed to win him fans for a long time. It’s hard to quite put a finger on why he is just so unbearable in the majority of his films, but I guarantee you that if you start watching Accidental Love then you will soon start feeling that same level of “ugh” when he is on the screen.
Diabolically bad “comedy” that fails to provide laughs, characters that you can actually get behind and anything that is even remotely enjoyable in a it’s run time.
I tend to stay away from comedies and this is pretty much the reason why. When they are done right, comedies can be the most enjoyable experiences in cinema, but when they’re done with such poor execution as Accidental Love is, it is so horrible that you instantly regret that moment you first saw the trailer for it.
Avoid like the plague!