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Monday December 4, 2000

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Slapschtick

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Australian writer-director Yahoo Serious stars in dismal physical comedy

When the director of a film is named Yahoo Serious, no one expects that movie to be a Merchant Ivory-like production. In fact, no one expects much of anything.

And "Mr. Accident," co-written and directed by Serious, does not do much to exceed these low expectations. The film is a weak attempt at slapstick comedy, devising a series of rather standard pratfalls to besiege its main character, accident-prone maintenance man Roger Crumpkin, who is played by, but of course, Yahoo Serious.

Film-goers should always be wary of films made by čber-hyphenates. When filmmakers act, direct, write and produce their own films, they are in danger of hindering the collaborative process of feature film production. While under the guidance of a talented hyphenate, the resulting film may suffer no loss of quality, at other times the filmmaker can lose the tight, creative grip over the film that one needs, with no one around to say "Dude, that sucks."

"Mr. Accident" seemingly suffers from this one-voice quality. Its plot lacks cohesiveness and succinctness - Serious throws together disparate story lines from the search for intelligent life in the universe (is it too much to ask for some here on Earth?) to out-of-place flashbacks to show the audience the uninteresting genesis of the uninteresting Crumpkin, with loose connections holding them together. Serious apparently believes in the adage "the more the merrier" but the result is only a confused, diffused film that might have been able to pull at a heartstring or two if it could have figured out how it wanted to do so.

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