Review of "Happy Accidents" (spoilers possible)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jason Seaver, Aug 26, 2001.

  1. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    Happy Accidents is a great romantic comedy. Or a great delusional-guy drama. Or a great science-fiction movie. Or some combination of the three. I'm not telling you which, and give credit to writer/director/editor Brad Anderson for not tipping his hand until he absolutely has to. Just when things start to become too obviously science-fictional, a more grounded explanation appears, and vice versa.
    The two leads are excellent. Marisa Tomei is perhaps a little shrill at times as Ruby, the codependent heroine of the piece (though she's got reason). She's had a series of bad relationships, but she's obviously culpable, and it's because of that quality that the audience can have doubts about Vincent D'Onofrio's Sam Deed. Sam has a bunch of weird idiosyncracies, and after about twenty or thirty minutes, a dilly of an explanation:Spoiler:He claims to be from the year 2470.
    Ruby is still attracted to him after he says this, and winds up talking about this with both her best friend Gretchen (Nadia Dajani) and her therapist (Holland Taylor). They give opposing advice, but both have a certain logic behind their views.
    This movie's humor - and there's a lot - comes pretty organically from the story. Tomei and D'onofrio are great together. It's a pity Vincent is being lost to TV this fall, since while being able to see him on a weekly basis is a treat, "Law & Order" is the modern equivelent of "Dragnet", and he probably won't have a chance to give a performance this fine. And you won't find a finer ending to a (this movie's genre) movie this year.
    This movie's going to be tough to find; Paramount Classics was supposed to distribute it last year, but backed out. Why, I can't imagine; the potential science-fiction content, I guess. IFC Films is giving it a small release in Boston and New York, at least, but no word on the rest of the country or eventual video release. Still, absolutely worth finding.
    [Edited last by Jason Seaver on September 09, 2001 at 10:16 PM]
     
  2. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    I'm happy to have the opportunity to bring this thread back to the top.
    Happy Accidents is yet another demonstration that the best way to hook an audience is with imaginative writing and fine acting. Jason was careful not to give too much away, and he's already summarized the basic storyline. I'll just add that the film is loaded with entertaining grace notes, including a cameo by Anthony Michael Hall (he's listed in the credits, so it's not a surprise) that turns out to have more connection to the plot than first appears, a moving and unexpected scene between Tomei and Tovah Feldschuh (who plays her mother) and a scene-stealing turn by Holland Taylor as a purposeful therapist. The film expanded to more theaters in the greater New York area this weekend, which suggests that IFC Films may be experimenting with broader distribution. If it opens near you, encourage them by seeking it out; you won't be sorry.
    M.
    [Edited last by Michael Reuben on September 09, 2001 at 05:43 PM]
     
  3. JohnS

    JohnS Producer

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    Maybe someone can make this official review thread??
    I loved this movie.
    I thought Marisi Tomei gave a great performance.
    Also Vincent D was really good.
    I thought the movie had alot to offer with discussion, like Momento.
    It's still making me think.
    Their is enough story to keep you interested thorughout the whole movie, and doesn't let you down.
    I also agree about the Anthony Michael Hall scene-GREAT!
    I sure hope they release a Special Edition of this movie on DVD.
    RATING=B+
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  4. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    I know this is the review thread, but thought I would ask a discussion question about this film...
    I saw it in LA (With John as a matter of fact), and really enjoyed it. I did however have one question:
    Spoiler:Did anyone else get the feeling the ending had been changed from an original version?
    In my opinion the film was going in a very specific direction. It seemed obvious that they were alluding to the fact that the two characters might very well be caught in a loop- "him going back - her dying - him going back - her dying - etc"
    It seemed, to me at least, that the events leading up to her death were CAUSED by Sam's intervention. The cab driver and his injured eye, Ruby being at the intersection at that time, Ruby being distracted (by both Sam and the photos), etc. None of this would have happened if it weren't for Sam being in her life in the first place.
    So I got the vibe that the ending would have been something like, her dying- and then they show the beginning over with a voice over about how he finally realized that maybe he was caught in a loop, and because he loves her he chose to walk away from her in the park that day.
    Regardless of the possibility of an "original" ending, I just got the vibe that the happy ending was reworked after the fact- due to test screenings or something.
    The ending seemed a bit to happy for an indie film, first of all.
    Secondly- it seemed odd that Sam's backward vision would have popped up throughout the film- however at no point before did it physically take everyone backwards and allow for a different chain of events. In other words, Sam's vision was always presented as a hallucination-- he saw everything going backwards while everyone else continued forward (Ruby mentioned his "far away looks" to her theripist- meaning she was still working in real time while Sam saw the world moving backwards).
    And despite showing the backward think a half dozen time, it never was presented as a situation where he would then see the same event forward, only with a different result-- he usually just snapped out of it and came back to real time. In the end, all of a sudden his backward vision actually effected everyone else- and even allowed for a different outcome of the same event the second time. That seemed tacked on to me.
    Again- I expected the film to end up with Ruby dying- and even if they didn't show him walking away the next time-- atleast having a voice over along the lines of "In the end, it turned out that my choice to help Ruby only pushed her faster towards the accident. I think she might be better off if I don't try to save her. I only hope that I can figure that out sooner, next time..."
    Did anyone else get that vibe?
    Vince
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    [Edited last by Vince Maskeeper on October 05, 2001 at 08:58 AM]
     
  5. JustinS

    JustinS Agent

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    I am tickled that this film is finally getting some scree time somewhere as I might finally get a chance to see it. I very much enjoyed Anderson's previous venture, Next Stop, Wonderland.
     
  6. WoodyH

    WoodyH Stunt Coordinator

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    I just watched this last night, as it was its last night playing at a theater within walking distance of my apartment, and I'd been intrigued by the reviews.
    The short-n-sweet: I really liked it, and very much agree with Jason and Michael's comments above. I don't know how much longer it's going to be in theaters, or whether it's just gearing up (it had been playing at the Broadway Market theaters here in Seattle for about 2 weeks before it closed its run last night), but it's worth catching if you can.
    Vince...
    Spoiler:I hadn't thought about whether or not Sam might be the catalyst for the whole thing...but I didn't get the impression that the ending had been altered, either - it seemed to work for me. However, I feel like I should have caught that paradox on my own...ah, well. [​IMG]
    As far as Sam's backward vision suddenly being able to alter events, I don't think that's what happened - therefore, there was no need to show it being able to affect things earlier. A running theme of Sam's throughout the film was Who-zit-es Theory Number Five (or whatever), that while in general no large changes could be made to the timestream (because they would eventually work themselves out, like ripples dissapearing after a rock's tossed into a river), changes could be made with a strong enough emotional charge - hence his goading Ruby on in the apartment until she knocks him out.
    My interpretation was that this time through the event loop, his love/dispair/dismay/horror at seeing Ruby get hit by the cab driver (possibly coupled with the realization that if he hadn't smacked the cab driver around, he wouldn't have been adjusting the eye patch, and therefore wouldn't have hit Ruby), combined with Ruby's recognition of the picture that proved he was telling the truth (and therefore allowing her to trust him enough to finally admit that she loved him) created a strong enough emotional charge to finally push Ruby and himself out of the loop.
    That's my take, at least.
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  7. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    I think Woody's hit on it. I don't think the ending was changed - aside from my thinking it's completely perfect and the best end to a movie you're likely to see this year, the only people involved whom I could see demanding a change are Paramount Classics, and they dropped the picture.
    One thing I figured might have been happening was that Spoiler:this was the last iteration of a causal loop, the one where Sam either finally got it right, or the emotional energy had built up over the repetition, or things just finally worked out.
    I also agree that that wasn't Sam's backward-vision at the end, it was time finally being nudged by the emotional charge.One line in Vince's post probably deserves a spin-off post, though:
     
  8. WoodyH

    WoodyH Stunt Coordinator

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  9. Dana Fillhart

    Dana Fillhart Supporting Actor

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    I saw it with Vince, and I must say, this is my 2nd favorite film this year. And I also happen to agree 100% with what Vince said -- I walked out of there feeling like the ending had been changed after a test screening audience's reaction. However, Woody's explanation does hold water...I just had wished there had been a little more obvious clues to lead me to believe that Woody's explanation was the intended direction -- as it is, I tend to lean more toward Vince's.
    Wonderful movie; I rate it 90%, just a hair below Memento (and just a hair above Ghost World, which I saw at the same Laemmle theatre on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood as HA; I rate GW at 85% just for comparison.)
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  10. Mark Pfeiffer

    Mark Pfeiffer Screenwriter

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    As one of the few fans here of Brad Anderson's Next Stop Wonderland, I've been itching to see this but haven't had any opportunity to do so. (Session 9 hasn't played here either.) IFC Films rarely releases on a very wide scale, although I think Go Tigers! may have had a national rollout. They do seem to be releasing more films now, so maybe the process will get somewhat quicker.
    Believe me, I want to see it and have since it played Sundance last year.
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  11. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    Next Stop Wonderland only has a few fans here? ::sigh:: That's just depressing.
     

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