David O. Russell's Abandoned 'Accidental Love' Is Not Even Worthy of an All-GIF Review
About three minutes into Accidental Love, I decided the only review I could write for this movie would be a GIF reaction one, because I couldn’t possibly think how to put its full awfulness into words. But by about 12 minutes in, I realized that wouldn’t work, because the whole thing would only be GIFs of this face:
That’s the face you’ll make through the entirety of this movie, as your brain attempts to burrow through the back of your skull in an escape maneuver more enjoyable than the film itself.
Accidental Love seemed to have tried its very hardest to never be released to the public— or at least to not have anyone, anywhere, notice that it had. Back in 2008, David O. Russell started making the movie, then claiming the far superior title Nailed, a political satire loosely based on Kristen Gore’s (as in Al’s daughter) novel Sammy’s Hill. Financing fell through, though, and after two years and many hiatuses, Russell quit the picture. More recently, the fictional pseudonym of a director, Stephen Greene, cobbled together what he could in order to release something that at least resembles a movie. Accidental Love was supposed to come out last month— I know because I was supposed to review it then, but two days before its scheduled day-to-date release, it disappeared from Fandango. Suddenly, not even a synopsis page existed anymore. It still came out on VOD, but its theatrical release was rescheduled for March 20th. However, as far as I can tell, that theatrical release consists of one theater in Midtown Manhattan. All that is to say, someone worked really hard to make sure no one knew this movie existed.
The film centers around Alice Eckle (Jessica Biel— yes, this movie is relying on Jessica Biel to carry it), a sweet romantic roller skating waitress at a throwback drive-in diner, just so you know the levels of twee we’re dealing with here. During a date with her pornstached cop boyfriend Scott (James Marsden), immediately after he proposes, Alice is struck by an errant nail gun. Due to her lack of insurance, no one will remove the nail, and she suddenly finds herself in a situation which Jake Gyllenhaal’s character (we’ll get to him) sums up not-ironically-enough as “There’s a nail in your head and it’s neurologically making you a whore.” That lack of irony or self awareness is an issue throughout the entire movie. What’s potentially (POTENTIALLY) fascinating here is the plausibility of Alice’s situation. Similar horrifying injuries are not unheard of, nor are the sexual and impulse-related ramifications of certain brain injuries. And most of us feel a twinge of pained empathy for a lack of insurance horror story. But no one involved, not the actors or the filmmakers, seem invested enough for this to actually be considered satire. Everyone’s tongues are pushed so firmly into their cheeks that I imagine those self-congratulatory mouth wounds are too distracting to allow for anyone to remember they’re actually making a movie. The whole thing is a mess from the start, but when Alice heads off to Washington D.C. to try to get the attention of a handsome, bumbling congressman (Gyllenhaal), things go way off the rails. The rails you didn’t even think were there until you’re this far off.
Alice suddenly finds her newly sexually aggressive self up against Catherine Keener in a ridiculous bouffant wig, trying to get a health care bill passed, but also there’s a bit about developing a military base on the moon with Girl Scouts and Josh Brolin is there and I don’t know, my brain is trying to escape through my ears again.
And because every terrible comedy needs some terrible sidekicks, Alice is joined by two other accident victims: there’s Kurt Fuller with a perma-erection and Tracy Morgan with a prolapsed anus. Because boners + butts = comedy, ammirite? Ultimately, this movie could, in some very distant parallel universe, have ended up being an amusing yet biting commentary on the failings of government. But we do not live in that universe. The place in which such a thing could have happened is far, far away.
Vivian Kane is pretty sure her face really did freeze that way while watching this movie.