Happy Accidents looks like a trendy romantic comedy. It had Vincent D’onofrio circa 1999 (though the movie wasn’t released until 2001), and it was made right after writer/director Brad Anderson’s excellent and ignored Next Stop, Wonderland.* It even has the K-Pax/Man Facing Southeast plot of a guy who may or not be insane and how others react his wisdom/insight/insanity. In this case he claims to be from the future.
The first ten minutes of Happy Accidents are absolutely dreadful, with Marisa Tomei explaining how she fell in love with the awkward and odd D’onofrio, using a ridiculously obvious framing device of having her explain the story in flashback to her therapist (who theoretically wouldn’t need all this backstory, as she would know all of this already). But then it settles in for a lot of humorous and awkward situations. D’onofrio’s dialogue is fantastical yet sensical, and his performance channels all the other performances he’s ever given, where his line readings suggest many possibilities and interpretations. And it has Tomei trying to deal with his creative stories, which she is unsure of either whether she wants to endorse to add to his lunacy (or whether he might be telling the truth), whether it’s a game he’s playing that adds excitement to their relationship. It even throws in an incredible scene with Tomei’s mother revealing what happens when you cure people and solve all their life’s problems. Anderson’s script is shockingly insightful and character driven, when it could have easily been a one joke gimmick. And Anthony Michael Hall is in it too. As himself.
*Happy Accidents with its sci-fi like plot, yet still retaining certain conventions of the romantic comedy is somehow exactly between Next Stop Wonderland and his next film Session 9.