Happy Accidents

| September 8, 2001

I’m a time travel geek. The concept of being able to go back in time, particularly, has fascinated me since I can remember. Any movie with an element of “time” in it, naturally, grabs my attention and generally ends up being a favourite. Frequency, Sliding Doors, even stupid things like Star Trek IV, the Voyage Home and Back to the Future…I love them all.
So of course when I saw a preview for Happy Accidents, which had the catchy tagline “The future’s not what it used to be,” well, I was practically ready to preorder the DVD right there.
The plot’s a deceptively simple one: Lovelorn loser Ruby Weaver (Oscar® winner Marisa Tomei) meets somewhat strange but basically nice guy Sam Deed (Vincent D’Onforio) and they fall in love. Sam’s a little odd: he’s terrified of dogs, even toy breeds; he can’t tell the difference between roses and carnations; he sketches almost obsessively; and he thinks popular music includes Bossa Nova and Polka. But, hey, that’s easily explained: he’s not from New York, he’s from Dubuque.
But all the while, Ruby can’t help but wonder, what’s the catch? He seems like a nice guy…so what’s wrong with him? She and her friends have a box of photos of old boyfriends they call the “Ex-Files” and Ruby often wonders what’s going to put Sam into that box. She also tells her therapist (Holland Taylor) all about Sam…
On their 3-month anniversary, finds Sam’s wallet, and like Pandora, has to see what’s inside. She finds photos of Sam’s parents and sister–photos he said he didn’t have. She confronts him…
…And he explains. He’s not been completely honest. See he’s from Dubuque all right. Just not Ruby’s Dubuque. He’s from the Dubuque on the Atlantic Coast, the Dubuque of 2470, and the photos she found, those are just backstory supplied by his contact Krystie Delancy…Ruby flips. She was right! He’s a lying defective, just like all the other Ex-Files! But Sam keeps talking: he found this photo of her in an antique shop, and he had to find her. How did he find her out of all the people in Manhattan? Well, it was a “happy accident.” It’s so romantic that Ruby can’t throw him out. But she can’t quite believe it, either…so she asks her therapist what to do. She advises Ruby to play along. After all, time travel is impossible…
Eventually, Sam tells Ruby the “real” truth. He found her picture when, accused of causing the accidental death of his sister, he was researching precedent and found her case. He fell in love with her picture, just as he said…but he came back to do more than just find her. He came back to save her life. The day after tomorrow.
There’s a lot of good time travel paradoxes here, and they’re explained pretty well. The one at the very end of the film…I’m still thinking about that one. The only thing that kinda bothered me was the casting. I have a hard time warming up to Vincent as a romantic lead ever since he played the bug creature in Men in Black, but I guess in a way they have a bit in common…
Like I said, I love a good time travel movie. Hell, I love a bad time travel movie. This one just happens to fall into the former category.
Note: Because I go into movies knowing as little as possible (I look it all up afterwards), I didn’t realize this was made by the director of Next Stop Wonderland, but the first thing I commented on as we were walking out of the theatre was how much this movie reminded me of the earlier film. And now I know why. Well, it explains the Bossa Nova records…

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