By: Addison Wylie
David O. Russell hit the nail on the head by distancing himself from the farcical fumble Accidental Love.
To say the film has had a tumultuous past would be putting it lightly – just as saying the movie is merely bad would be doing it a favour. Production on the film (formally named Nailed) began in 2008, and suffered from financial woes and reshoots. James Caan reportedly walked off the set over creative differences which resulted in another hangup for the movie. Russell, who has directed great films like Three Kings and Silver Linings Playbook, has since removed his name from the project – he’s credited under the pseudonym Stephen Greene. But, the show must go on!
Now, in 2015, audiences watch a movie that’s been shabbily strewn together without much of Russell’s influence on anything. The desperate performers hobble themselves through a plot so cataclysmically disjointed, one starts to guess if the blame falls on the unorganized screenwriters (Dave Jeser, Matthew Silverstein, and Kristin Gore) or the scrappy editing (Mark Bourgeois and Robert K. Lambert under the supervision of producer Kia Jam). If you know about Accidental Love’s tattered history beforehand, the film isn’t even educational or entertaining to watch as an example of how not to make a movie.
Just as she’s getting engaged to her boy toy Scott (played by James Marsden), rollerskating waitress Alice (played by Jessica Biel) is struck in the head by a nearby construction worker’s nail gun. She starts to receive surgery, but the aid stops when the doctors find out she’s uninsured. Alice marches her way to Washington DC and teams up with witless Congressman Howard Birdwell (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) to find justice, with hopes to pave the way for others suffering from injuries like hers. Also, when bonked on the head, the nail turns Alice into a sexual deviant and occasional Portuguese linguist.
Here’s my speculation: Accidental Love is about disingenuous characters who will do or say the right things to be perceived as powerful heros. That’s more or less the concept of David O. Russell’s American Hustle – just swap out political satire for crime conventions. Perhaps Russell, knowing Nailed was going down in flames, promised himself to grit through this troublesome experience and revisit these character types in the future. American Hustle – while far from perfect – succeeds in portraying these manipulative people.
Russell (sorry, “Greene”) swims upstream in order to serve his points in Accidental Love, and receives no help from the untamed script. The comedy cuts corners and doesn’t wait for the audience to catch up. Meanwhile, the satirical jabs towards health care and political phonies are slathered on so thick, the material drops its potential to be cunning. Actors scream and cry, the camera tilts, movie goers scratch their head, and before we know it, the next scene has already started playing. Accidental Love is fried and frazzled, completely overwritten, and clumsily shows its outdated milage. This is obnoxious, depressing time travel more than it is a completed film.
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