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A Film...From the Future

by Andrew Green

Today I have a movie about time travel...sort of.

Happy Accidents (2000)

Netflix description:
"Ruby Weaver (Marisa Tomei) is tired of being the "enabler" in relationships and has decided to give up the role of doormat. She's also on the verge of giving up on love. But a sweet, small-town guy, Sam Deed (Vincent D'Onofrio), changes her mind, and it seems Ruby's finally found a sane boyfriend. Or has she? Soon, Sam's divulging that he's a time traveler from the year 2470 … and Ruby must decide whether love conquers all."

OK, so Ruby has VERY bad luck with men, and when she meets Sam, it looks like her losing streak could be over. Although Sam is a little strange, he seems like a good, sweet guy...until a series of events forces him to divulge to Ruby his true identity. See, Sam comes from, like, a thousand years into the future. He's traveled back to our time to avoid prosecution for some kind of crime, and...well, you get it.

As Sam tells more wild stories about his origins, Happy Accidents gets funnier and funnier. That is, funnier and funnier if you watch it with the assumption that he's completely full of crap (as Ruby believes him to be). The idea that Sam is some kind of BS-er, spinning ludicrous yarns to cover his own infidelity, makes this film work. Marisa Tomei is such a fantastic actress that we actually sympathize with her predicament while also laughing at it, and the naive sincerity that Vincent D'Onofrio brings to his role is so perfectly balanced with Sam's more dubious qualities that we like him -- even while believing that he's a sleazebag.

But IS he a sleazebag? Maybe a part of us wants to buy his tales of time travel. A part of Ruby obviously does. Otherwise, she'd kick him to the curb. She can sense that there's something special to their relationship, and we as viewers feel it too. This I also chalk up to the strength of the main performances, which really keep an otherwise preposterous and (let's face it) pointless movie fairly enjoyable for ALMOST all of its 110 minutes.

Sadly, the picture completely falls apart near the end. I'd tell you why, but that would require a major spoiler, and I just won't do that to you. Bottom line is that Happy Accidents is, for the most part, a moderately tolerable, slightly charming little romantic comedy with a time travel twist. You won't really gain anything from watching it...but you really won't lose anything, either.

2 out of 5.