In 1988, Yahoo Serious' fanciful historical comedy Young Einstein became a massive, record-setting blockbuster in its native Australia, only to flop miserably in America, despite an overbearing ad campaign that just barely stopped short of forcing audiences into theaters at gunpoint. Serious has made only two more films in the ensuing 13 years (establishing himself as the Stanley Kubrick of crazy-haired Australian slapstick filmmakers), and due to Einstein's commercial failure, neither received major releases here. Serious' latest, Mr. Accident, casts the writer, director, producer, and star as the mayhem-prone janitor of an egg factory newly run by David Field, a satanic, chain-smoking über-capitalist with a plan to introduce a nefarious secret substance into eggs and an unfortunate tendency to threaten people with an ax. A hopeless sad-sack with no social life, Serious stumbles into a romance with Field's busty, dim-witted ex-girlfriend (Helen Dallimore) after she mistakenly wanders into his apartment; Field does his best to end the relationship with extreme prejudice. What follows is a visually appealing romp, albeit one filled with some of the clumsiest, least effective slapstick shenanigans ever committed to film. The excruciatingly telegraphed pratfalls and gags are as unpredictable and inevitable as a Siberian winter, and about as enjoyable. Much of the blame, not surprisingly, belongs to the multi-hatted Serious, a dead ringer for Johnny Rotten who performs even the most basic antic with a grim determination better suited to the study of nuclear physics. Broad physical comedy may be Serious' specialty, but he's not very good at it: Even with his towering mass of bright orange hair, he never seems more than blandly affable, and he sorely lacks the charisma and screen presence necessary to pull off such material. Mr. Accident's sunny optimism and heavy-handed anti-smoking message are admirable, but neither is likely to linger half as long as the film's sole bit of Farrelly Brothers-style raunchiness, a persistently creepy running gag intimating bestiality between Dallimore's comically zaftig best friend (Jeanette Cronin) and an overly friendly German Shepherd.
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