HAPPY ACCIDENTS Add To My Top 10
Warm and Whimsical But Warped
Release Date: August 24, 2001
Genre: Romantic Comedy/Science
Runtime: 96 minutes
Director: Brad Anderson
Producer: Susan A. Stover
Writer: Writer and director Brad Anderson (who also directed the excellent but problematic horror movie SESSION 9) has fashioned a goofy science fiction romance. HAPPY ACCIDENTS stars Marisa Tomei as Ruby, a schoolteacher in New York City who falls in love with a compassionate but quirky young man named Sam Deed, played by Vincent D’Onofrio. Ruby and Sam start living together. Then, Sam tells Ruby that he is really a time traveler from 2470 A.D. As Ruby debates with her friend Gretchen and her therapist whether Sam is telling the truth about his past or not, Sam slowly reveals that he’s also come to New York to save Ruby’s life.
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Writer and director Brad Anderson (who also directed the excellent but problematic horror movie SESSION 9) has fashioned a goofy science fiction romance. HAPPY ACCIDENTS stars Marisa Tomei as Ruby, a schoolteacher in New York City who falls in love with a compassionate but quirky young man named Sam Deed, played by Vincent D’Onofrio. Ruby and Sam start living together. Then, Sam tells Ruby that he is really a time traveler from 2470 A.D. As Ruby debates with her friend Gretchen and her therapist whether Sam is telling the truth about his past or not, Sam slowly reveals that he’s also come to New York to save Ruby’s life.
HAPPY ACCIDENTS takes too long to get to the part about saving Ruby’s life. The scenes with Sam awkwardly fitting with Ruby’s friends and Ruby’s family are extremely amusing and clever, as are the scenes where Sam tries to court Ruby with such things like polka music. However, when the movie builds to the part about saving Ruby’s life, the movie shifts focus a little too radically and unexpectedly. This shift comes too late in the movie and, in fact, divides the story’s energy into at least two separate premises or propositions: “Romantic love overcomes and transcends death” and “Good character overcomes doubt and jealousy.”
Hence, in the movie’s first half or so, Ruby tries to decide whether to trust Sam’s crazy stories about the future. Her friend Gertrude tells Ruby it doesn’t really matter, because (as Ruby herself notes) Sam has a gentle and loving character, and that character should generate trust in Ruby. Besides, Gertrude reasons, playing along with Sam’s crazy stories, real or not, might add spice to Sam and Ruby’s relationship. Later, when Ruby finds some drawings made by Sam of what appears to be another woman, with the words Christey Delancey throughout them, Ruby is also faced with the question of whether her knowledge of and trust in Sam’s good character can overcome her jealousy.
Sam, however, still has one more secret to reveal – that he’s come to the past to save Ruby’s life. Thus, in the final part of the movie, the question becomes, “Can Sam and Ruby’s love overcome, and even transcend, death?” The movie answers this question in the affirmative, but, by the time it develops and builds on this premise, HAPPY ACCIDENTS starts to overstay its welcome and Ruby’s doubts and anger become a little bit tiring.
Despite these aesthetic problems, Marisa Tomei and Vincent D’Onofrio do wonderful jobs of portraying their characters. Although Vincent lays on the bizarre behavior a bit thick at times, Marisa has nary a bad moment throughout the movie. She truly is an excellent actress who deserves more featured roles in major motion pictures.
Although the romantic comedy in HAPPY ACCIDENTS is winsome and life-affirming, the movie contains worldview elements that are ultimately abhorrent. The movie’s explanation of time travel is a pagan one that says there may be parallel universes. This pagan worldview contains a wacko environmentalist concept which says that the polar ice caps on Earth can melt entirely to wipe out all the land in America east of the Mississippi. The movie also has some solid anti-Christian content in it. For example, Ruby and her girlfriends mock the Christian believers they’ve encountered while dating. In fact, her friend Gertrude says she once dated a Jew for Jesus who hid his religious beliefs from her while he had wild fornication with her. Then, later in the movie, Sam and Ruby pass by a Christian church, and Ruby is greatly relieved that Sam has no urge to go inside the church. Thus, the message of these scenes not only is that most men are pigs but also that most Christians are deceitful hypocrites.
In addition to these terrible worldview problems, HAPPY ACCIDENTS contains some strong foul language, including use of the “f” word. Not only that, but Ruby and Sam fornicate and cohabit together without benefit of marriage. There is also a scene where Sam gets high on marijuana when he and Ruby spend a day with Gertrude and her boyfriend. Finally, Ruby’s mother expresses regrets about sobering up her alcoholic husband because the spark has gone out of her feelings for him. She then warns Ruby that it’s not always best to try to get rid of all your lover’s or spouses faults. Although Ruby’s mother doesn’t use the term sin, unenlightened viewers might conclude from watching this scene that human beings should live with alcoholism, drunkenness or other sins instead of repenting and turning to God, including God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Given the movie’s anti-Christian perspective, this is not surprising.
To sum up, HAPPY ACCIDENT’s humor, acting, feel-good moments, and whimsical story twists are wonderful, though sometimes unfocused, but its abhorrent, anti-Christian worldview leads to some significant moral problems. Writer and director Brad Anderson remains a filmmaker to watch, however. Please pray that God will transform him with the Love of Jesus Christ and use his talent for goodness and truth.
HAPPY ACCIDENTS is a small independent movie that has a lot going for it. It’s very funny, endearing and extremely clever. Marisa Tomei and Vincent D’Onofrio also do wonderful jobs of portraying their characters, though Vincent lays on the bizarre behavior a bit thick at times. Regrettably, the movie meanders a bit too much, tries to do two premises instead of focusing on just one and contains explicit, abhorrent anti-Christian elements within a strong pagan worldview. This abhorrent, anti-Christian worldview leads to some significant moral problems in the story.