Accidental Love Review

Accidental Love poster
Title: Accidental Love
Director: David O. Russell (as Stephen Greene)
Starring: Jessica Biel,
Jake Gyllenhaal,
Catherine Keener,
James Marsden,
Tracy Morgan
Genre: Comedy
Runtime: 1 Hour 41 mins
Music: John Swihart
Studio: Arrow Films
Certificate: US: PG-13
UK: 15
Release Date: US: Feb 10 2015
UK: Jun 19 2015
See If You Like: Lets Kill Ward’s Wife
Care for a nail to the head with that?


You often hear stories about actors/directors leaving projects during pre-production, and occasionally during production citing the ever-popular creative differences, but it’s rare to see a director leave a project so far into production the film still has to be credited to them. Yet if you happen to see the mess of a ‘comedy’ movie that is Accidental Love, you’ll understand why David O. Russell (The Fighter) not only left the film, but wanted to have his name removed from this blight on the cinematic market forever (leading to a director’s credit under the pseudonym Stephen Greene).

Despite featuring a cast filled with recognisable faces, and mixed with some undeniable acting talent; including not only leading lady Jessica Biel (Total Recall), Nightcrawler‘s Jake Gyllenhaal, James Marsden (X-Men), and Catherine Keener (Captain Phillips), but Tracy Morgan (Cop-Out), David Ramsey (Arrow), Kirstie Alley (Cheers), and Kurt Fuller (Wayne’s World); there’s no saving this story about a roller-skating waitress (Biel), who ends up getting nail-gunned in the head during a date, and finds herself not only brain-damaged, but dumped, and fighting for a universal healthcare bill in order to sort out a little bit of free surgery.


Gyllenhaal stars as an ineffective young politician who decides to help the young waitress fight for her healthcare bill (yet even his undeniable acting ability isn’t enough to flesh out a dull, one-note, character in a sea of underdeveloped cliches and other one-note cardboard cutouts), and ends up falling for the likeable roller-skater (thanks to a generous performance by Biel, who manages to also make the surprisingly flat Alice watchable at least), and cause Alice’s State Trooper ex-boyfriend (Marsden) to decide maybe he jumped the gun by dumping his brain-damaged almost fiancee; created one of the most boring love-triangles ever seen on screen.

Accidental Love 01 Jessica Biel Jake Gyllenhaal

A brain-damaged girl with a nail in her head which makes her have violent outbursts, emotional mood swings, speak Portuguese, and get horny at random times is a comedy goldmine; yet Jess’ Alice seems just like an ordinary/ditzy lass 99% of the time (leading us to require verbal reminders as subtle as “there’s a nail in my head” or “the nail made me do it” every few seconds, so we don’t forget); the cop ex-boyfriend/the political boyfriend/and the loveable small-town girl also smacks of romantic gold, and the healthcare issue is not only big news in the US right now but brings the opportunity to explore extremely worthwhile political and social avenues; yet Accidental Love squanders all of this potential at every available opportunity, neither delivering anything meaningful (the execution of the healthcare bill is wholly unfulfilling, and the rally-cries are so bland and short of the mark it’s no wonder they fall on deaf ears), funny (often reducing itself to piss-poor slapstick, over-the-top unfunny set-pieces, or a string of cliched nonsensical drivel), or romantic (it’s obvious who Alice should be with, even more obvious who she wants, and despite next to no chasing/gestures/real love and bonding exhibited it’s obvious where she will go).

In short Accidental Love is a disjointed mess. Wasting any potential the concept may have brought it’s neither funny, poignant, romantic, or worthwhile, and as such it’s easy to see why David O. Russell wanted to abandon the entire thing. An enjoyable cast raise the bar from utterly terrible to near-watchable territory, yet shockingly poor writing means it’s extremely difficult to enjoy. A film to avoid at the cinema, pass over in stores, and only catch on Netflix if you’re extremely desperate for something new to watch.

Matt Wheeldon@TheMattWheeldon.

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Accidental Love is released through Arrow Films in cinemas Friday June 19th

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Matt Wheeldon is the Founder, and Editor in Chief of Good Film Guide. He still refers to the cinema as "the pictures", and has what some would describe as a misguided appreciation for Waterworld.