Accidents Happen – DVD Review

There are times when you’re watching certain films and you have to ask yourself, Is this how they intended it all to come together? It’s a simple question, yet a telling one, as if you ever find yourself asking it, you’re likely watching a bad film that may have been a good idea at one time, but somehow completely lost its way. This was exactly how I felt while watching Accidents Happen, as I can see how there may have been a good story to tell at some point during production, but the final product is anything but.

The film stars Geena Davis as Gloria Conway, the mother in a family that’s incredibly unlucky, in both inconsequential matters, and basically all of life in general. The film begins with a narration by someone just telling the story of these people, and how their unlucky ways would finally climax on a fateful night, where they would all be involved in a car accident on the way home from the movies. The film then flashes forward, and we learn that the Conway family has been torn apart by the accident, in which their daughter Linda was killed, and Gene, a twin to their now eldest son Larry (Harry Cook), is stuck in a vegetative state, and is under constant care in a nursing home.

The parents, Gloria and Ray (Joel Tobeck), dealt with the loss and hardships by separating, leaving Gloria the lone parent to Larry and Billy (Harrison Gilberton). The thing is, the story tries to come off as a dark comedy of sorts, and yet, it fails completely in the comedy department. Things are just so gloomy, and the family is just so dysfunctional that most of the time you’re left wondering why you’re even watching the film, as things can’t possibly turn around for them.

The story centers mainly on Billy, who befriends Gene’s old best friend, Doug Post (Sebastian Gregory), while trying to come to terms with what has happened to his family over the years. Doug is a kid who has a tendency to get himself into trouble while trying to have fun, by doing something like say, going streaking into a convenient store with a mask on, quickly grabbing a few drinks, then fleeing before people can register what they’ve just seen. This is something he does with Billy, as part of their bonding as new friends, yet the flow is just so wrong in the story, that it’s just another thing that happens before the film finishes.

In a film like Accidents Happen, you need to have some sort of turnaround, something that makes it all worth watching, or at least attempts to justify why you’ve wasted an hour and a half sitting through something this poorly made; but it feels like it never comes. The Narrator tells us at the start of the film that the car accident was the climax of their bad luck, and that things tended to balance out over time, which could mean days, or it could mean years. Well years certainly go by, but you feel as though there was nothing to be learned, as bad luck continues to follow the family around, and most of it they seem to bring on themselves by being self-destructive as a way of dealing with the loses they faced in the past.

The acting is a mixed bag as well, with accents being a major problem throughout. The film is an Australian film, and was filmed there, using Australian actors mixed with American actors, and yet, for some apparent reason they chose to ignore the fact that Billy (Gilberton) goes from an American accent, to an Australian accent by the middle of the film. This is also the case with Gregory’s character, and it makes you wonder why they didn’t either make it an Australian story, about an Australian family, or get all American actors (or Australian actors who can keep an accept hidden) to make the film. It’s distracting, and just comes off as sloppy. Geena Davis is obviously the only real shining light in the acting department, and it makes you wonder if the script she read for the film came off better than the final product.

The comedy seems forced when it does arise, and doesn’t fit with the deep dramatic story that they were obviously trying to tell. In the end it just doesn’t work, as the drama is weak, the characters are unsympathetic for the most part, and everything is just missing the depth that a film like this would need in order for it to be as influential as it wants to be.

The audio is in 5.1 Dolby Digital and sounds fine. There aren’t any points where words are mumbled, though it comes through well enough to hear the transfer from one accent to another, which doesn’t help things. The video transfer also looks good, with the picture looking solid, and the colors as vibrant as they should be.

When Featurettes Happen – This one comes in at the 3-minute mark, and what can be said in 3-minutes? Not much, and that’s pretty much what we get here.

Glorious Gloria – This is basically 2 minutes of Geena Davis talking about her character, and how she loved the character.

Cast & Crew Interviews – This is 8 minutes of the cast and crew talking about the film, giving their thoughts, and all that fun stuff. It’s really light on any substance, though in some way, you again have to feel that the story just completely fell apart somewhere along the line, as they all seem so head-over-heels for the film and the message they believe it has somewhere inside of it.

Accidents Happen is a complete mess. It’s the perfect example of a film that tries to do be more than it is, and ends up going in so many directions that it loses itself along the way. The story is drawn out, even at 92 minutes, as the characters aren’t compelling and the drama just isn’t there.

Red Carpet Productions and Bankside Films present Accidents Happen. Directed by: Andrew Lancaster. Starring: Geena Davis. Written by: Brian Carbee. Running time: 92 minutes. Rating: R. Released on DVD: July 27, 2010.