John Irving-style mishaps and labored irony fail to maintain drama or coherence in "Accidents Happen."

John Irving-style mishaps and labored irony fail to maintain drama or coherence in “Accidents Happen,” an Australian-made, faux-American dysfunctional-family black comedy. Andrew Lancaster’s helming bow looks smart but lacks confidence in its melodrama and, professional editing aside, resembles a meandering rough cut. Led by a valiant Geena Davis, the talented thesps do their best — floating Australian accents aside — with a script that mistakes abuse for wit. Pic played Tribeca in 2009 and picked up a gong at Italy’s esteemed Giffoni fest, but April’s theatrical release Down Under was uneventful.

Suburban teenager, Billy Conway (Harrison Gilbertson) is the anxious survivor of a car accident that killed his sister, left one brother comatose and was the chief cause of his parent’s divorce. Unable to connect with his mom (Davis), Billy hangs out with neighborhood prankster Doug (Sebastian Gregory), with catastrophic results. Opening’s derisive narration is the first sign of trouble, and the rambling scenes and jarring tones suggest experienced editor Roland Gallois wasn’t free to discard ill-fitting material. Davis is professional even as she spews out lines like, “And if my grandmother had balls, she’d be my grandfather.” Tech credits are polished.

Accidents Happen

Australia

Production

A Hopscotch Films release of a Red Carpet Prods. and Screen Australia production, in association with Abacus Film Fund, Head Gear Films and New South Wales Film & Television Office. (International sales: Bankside Films, London.) Produced by Anthony Anderson. Executive producers, Heather Ogilvie, Graham Buckeridge, Phil Hunt, Compton Ross. Directed by Andrew Lancaster. Screenplay, Brian Carbee.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen, HD-to-35mm), Ben Nott; editor, Roland Gallois; music, Antony Partos; production designer, Elizabeth Mary Moore. Reviewed at Cinema 2, Palace Verona, Paddington, Sydney, April 23, 2010. (In 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.) Running time: 95 MIN.

With

Geena Davis, Harrison Gilbertson, Sebastian Gregory, Harry Cook, Joel Tobeck, Wendy Playfair, Erik Thomson, Sarah Woods.

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