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Accidental Love


Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jessica Biel, James Marsden, Catherine Keener, Tracy Morgan, James Brolin, Beverly D'Angelo, Bill Hader, Darlene Hunt, Kirstie Alley, Paul Reubens

Director: 'Stephen Greene' (mostly David O Russell)

On the shelf for a couple of years, and apparently disowned by its original director (Russell), this attempt to re-create a classic screwball comedy with a few modern (i e sexual) trimmings) is better than you might expect from its track record.

Biel and Keener certainly know how to play this kind of comedy, though I'm not so sure about Gyllenhaal, who mugs (rather too) gamely throughout. Think what Cary Grant's feather-light touch might have done with this role.

At any rate, Biel is a rollerskating waitress in a relationship with handsome but smarmy trooper Marsden, when a dinner from hell, at which he planned to propose, ends abruptly when a man putting a sign up with a nail gun crashes to earth, putting a nail in Biel's head, endowing her with irresistible sexual urges and a talent for speaking Portuguese.

Rejected by the hospital authorities as she has no insurance (probably a serious statement lurking here, but it gets lost amid all the other shenanigans), Biel appeals to her wimpy, pseudo-idealistic congressman (that's Gyllenhaal) to help her out.

James Brolin's Speaker seems willing to ride to the rescue, but then he has a choking fit, and scheming Deputy Speaker Keener pulls the plug on resuscitation attempts.

Structurally the film is a bit of a mess, but it bounces along in such cavalier fashion from one scene to another that we hardly notice. Fun to be with most of the time, the piece is also bubble-light and instantly forgettable - as the thirties classics of the genre never were.

Close your eyes, though, and you can just imagine Grant and Katharine Hepburn cruising through this - especially if they had some smarter dialogue to help them. But, if you're in the mood for something very silly, this could fill the bill.

David Quinlan

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Arrow (K Jam Films). Colour by Fotokem.
101 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 15 Jun 2015