Aug 17, 2015

[Movies] Accidental Love (2015)

We tend to date movies based on their year of release, but sometimes you can't help but wonder if production time should factor in more somehow. When you look at Accidental Love, you have a movie that began production in 2008 and was probably ready for release in 2010 but only got out in 2015. Wikipedia documents a number of reasons why the movie was this delayed and it seems like a pretty messy story.

But it blipped on my radar since I was reviewing Jake Gyllenhaal's filmography and trying to find movies of his that I had not seen but might possibly want to watch. And given all the stress of Metro Manila life, I was rather open to some mindless comedy as opposed to an intense psychological thriller. The brain can only handle so much at the end of a long work day.

And this movie was pretty stupid indeed, but not in a good way. Despite the presence of a number of rather familiar and notable stars, their combined efforts were not enough to save this movie from being the train wreck that it is. After going over the production history, one can appreciate that this was not because of a a lazy effort resulting in a bad movie but more the result of extraneous complications that created unusual pressures on the whole production process. Plus money problems of some sort, so what can you do, eh?

Synopsis: Accidental Love is a comedy movie released in 2015 originally directed by David O. Russell but credited to the pseudonym Stephen Greene. There were efforts to release the movie in 2011 by the movie got out through video-on-demand in 2014 and on DVD and Blu-Ray by 2015.

The  movie generally focuses on Alice (Jessica Biel), a small-town rollerskating waitress who accidentally gets shot in the head with a nail gun. She actually manages to survive the experience, however the nail occasionally touches parts of her brain, thus resulting in unusual behavior. Given her job, she lacks health insurance and thus is unable to afford the surgery needed to extra the nail. She also tries to get a local doctor to remove the nail, but this doesn't work out either.

Her policeman boyfriend Scott (James Marden) finds it too difficult to handle her condition and leaves her. And eventually Alice catches a TV spot featuring newbie Congressman Howard Birdwell. The effects of the nail make her feel instantly smitten with him and yet also convinced that this young congressman might be able to help her in her plight. So she and a few other friends with conditions they can't afford to treat travel to Washington, D.C. to find the congressman and petition for his support.

The movie was clearly meant to be released before the Affordable Care Act could be passed as some sort of statement on the need for healthcare for all. However the initial financially-driven production delays resulted in the movie sitting by the road side for some time before it was re-cut into the monstrosity that we eventually watched. I can't really blame the original production team entirely - this was a weird effort to make the most of a bad situation and somehow profit from the resulting movie. There's only so much you can do to make something like this still look halfway decent.

That being said, it's hard to make heads or tails of what they wanted to do with this script given the scenes that did make it to the screen. After all, here we had a movie that started with one plot but ended with another and that kind of a hack job leaves scarring on the finished product.

Jake Gyllenhaal was an idiot in this movie - as we demanded by the role. He played a very convincing idiot who was certainly cute in his own right, but rather lacking in terms of redeeming qualities. And as much as I like Jake as the kind of adorkable guy that is quite easy on the eyes, his character was largely intolerable. At least  he had a gratuitous shirtless scene or two. That's always a good thing.

Jessica Biel didn't feel like herself for some reason. The role just felt wrong and you could tell in the inconsistent nature of her performance. The same could be said of James Marsden, who felt a little understated given how over the top he has managed to be in some of his other comedic efforts.

The final plot was rather ridiculous and not in a good way. I love a good campy romp, but this movie wasn't trying to be campy. I can appreciate good-natured silliness and not necessarily forced stupidity. I know this was supposed to be some sort of satirical piece in the beginning poking fun at our political system. But the transformation of the movie into something that wants to become a romantic comedy when it grows up just didn't work out.

Accidental Love is a sad zombie of a movie that didn't go through the reanimation process all that well. I feel a little bad for seeing it, but I suppose I learned something. The movie can only get 1 weird medical condition featured in the movie out of a possible 5.


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