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[whitespace] 'Happy Accidents' Bad Timing: Marisa Tomei falls for time-traveler Vincent D'Onofrio.

Time Tripping

'Happy Accidents' is a real slip-up for director Brad Anderson

By Richard von Busack

DIRECTOR BRAD ANDERSON, whose last film was the fun urban romance Next Stop Wonderland, flops in his first New York movie. One possibility for the failure (and it is a failure; the film's been in the can for more than a year) is the switch in location from Next Stop's setting--and Anderson's former prowling grounds--Boston. The New York vibe is different from Hub City's.

This tale of a romance between two goofballs, Ruby (Marisa Tomei) and Sam (Vincent D'Onofrio), seems unlikely in a more tough-minded locale. Tomei's Ruby has been through a hundred bad relationships, but when she meets a seemingly nice guy from Dubuque, she thinks that everything's swell. Gradually, Sam is plagued with seizures and reveals the cause to his new girlfriend: he's suffering from a kind of time-space hangover from his arrival in the year 1999; he's actually a time traveler from 2470, lured back by a photograph he found of Ruby in the archives.

In its way, then, Anderson's plot follows Chris Marker's La Jetée. Too bad Happy Accidents stresses the happiness, instead of the Cassandra-like melancholy of a man who knows the past is unchangeable, but who is trying to change it anyway. This time-travel element would seem to be especially seductive to an audience longing to go back in time before Sept. 11, but it's not worked well by Anderson for its real poignancy. Happy Accidents is strictly half-baked wacky romantic piffle with the usually solid Tomei and D'Onofrio both acting aggravatingly cute and silly; little chemistry exists between the leads. The film sinks under dead air and dead weight.

Happy Accidents (R; 110 minutes), written and directed by Brad Anderson and starring Marisa Tomei and Vincent D'Onofrio, opens Friday at the Los Gatos Cinema in Los Gatos.

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From the September 27-October 3, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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