The Horror Honeys: Travel Back to Timeless Sci-Fi Romance!

Travel Back to Timeless Sci-Fi Romance!

A Sci-Fi Honey Valentine’s Day Review by Katie

Happy Accidents (2000)

It’s that time of year when love and affection – or bitterness and despair, depending on your situation – is pervasive everywhere that you go, from candy shops to greeting card companies to commercials urging you to buy your way into the heart of a loved one. No matter what your outlook is on Valentine’s Day, why not celebrate the official holiday of love (and loneliness) with a movie that explores all the crazy ups and downs of a romantic relationship? Brad Anderson’s 2000 dramedy Happy Accidents examines one couple’s journey from their ‘meet cute’ to their possible ‘happily ever after,' including all the trials and triumphs that couples tend to face along the way. Ruby and Sam have a lot to overcome in order to be together… especially when Sam admits to Ruby that he travelled 471 years from a future dystopia to present-day New York in order to be with her. If you thought you had problems with your love life, you haven’t seen anything until the physics of the space-time continuum interferes with your Valentine’s Day plans.

Single city gal Ruby (Marisa Tomei) already has a lot to contend with before Sam (Vincent D’Onofrio) enters her life; as a recovering codependent, she attends regular therapy sessions to analyze her disastrous relationships and learn to put her own needs ahead of her concern for others. Fresh from yet another romantic casualty, Ruby meets Sam one afternoon while reading on a park bench. He’s funny, charming, and noticeably odd, though his quirkiness initially makes him all the more endearing. It isn’t long before Ruby falls head over heels, but Sam’s adorable ‘quirks’ soon become noticeably troubling: he keeps store-bought frame filler photos in his wallet and claims they’re his family; he has a mysterious barcode tattoo; he gets spells of motion sickness even when standing still. When Ruby confronts him about these and other curious red flags, Sam offers a simple explanation: that he found a photo of Ruby in the year 2470 A.D., and used an illegal form of ‘back travel’ to go back in time to meet her. Ruby’s friends and therapist, of course, express concern that Sam is mentally disturbed, harboring an elaborate and potentially dangerous delusion. So what’s a girl to do with this information – follow her head, or follow her heart? 

I don’t know; he seems totally legit to me.
The problem is that both possibilities have some rational merit, and Sam’s eccentricities can be accounted for one way or another, depending on how open-minded you are about the laws of physics. The convenient thing about using time-travel as a plot device is that it hasn’t been invented yet (that we know of), so the possibility of its existence in the future is always beyond our limited scope of knowledge. Sam’s got a clever explanation for every disconcerting thing about his past and all his peculiar behavior, but no tangible proof – so whether or not Ruby ultimately believes him relies only on how strongly she feels for him beyond a rational level. It’s a brilliant setup for a film that’s centered on a romantic relationship, since our emotional state of mind is so often at war with our logical one. If you watch Happy Accidents hoping for a happy ending, you’ll root for Sam to be telling the truth about their cosmic fate; if you’re more of a cynical realist, however, you’ll be screaming at the TV for Ruby to run away before Sam murders her in her sleep. 

… Murders her with LOVE!
While the sci-fi premise alone sets it apart from all those run-of-the-mill romantic dramadies out there, what makes Happy Accidents enormously engaging throughout are the charismatic performances by Tomei and D’Onofrio as Ruby and Sam. Marisa Tomei has elevated even the most mediocre movie into something watchable just by showing up, so it’s refreshing that Anderson gave her so much material to explore a broader range of her talent as emotional firecracker Ruby. Vincent D’Onofrio is characteristically offbeat in a Detective Goren sort of way, and their chemistry together is passionate and palpable throughout – whether Ruby is leaping into Sam’s arms with joy, or giving him an angry punch to the face. Writer/director Brad Anderson gives both actors plenty of room to work their improvisational magic, and manages to pull off some imaginative visuals on a limited indie-range budget. 

Just your modern, average, everyday couple… 
except one of them might be a time traveler. NBD.
Depending on your perspective as a starry-eyed optimist or a naysaying skeptic, Happy Accidents will either be the most romantic or the most batshit insane ‘rom-dram-com’ that you’re likely to experience. The best thing about this movie is that it appeals to both sensibilities throughout the film, navigating Ruby and Sam’s romantic roadblocks through the lens of mental illness and/or the detrimental side effects of back travel. Either way, this movie is the perfect Valentine’s Day screening for anyone with a little sci-fi in their hearts.

Sci-Fi Honey Rating: Four eccentric time-traveling lovers out of five

Happy Accidents is available via Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, & DVD

Would you travel through time with Vincent D'Onofrio?
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