Slapstick humor abounds in 'Mr. Accident'

Tucson Film Critic

Art Bell will love the Australian comedy "Mr. Accident." Even though the alien-loving late night radio talk show host is no longer on the air, the belief in Earth visitors from outer space remains strong. This need to believe in aliens plays an important part in "Mr. Accident."

Meanwhile, the rest of us will be struggling to suppress a shout of "He can't be serious!" But he is. Actor/writer/director/producer Yahoo Serious ("Young Einstein") is back with another one of his cheery slapstick comedies refreshingly free of petty humor and tasteless jokes about handicapped people.

Here in the states, Australian humor is definitely an acquired taste. But once you have it, the craving for that wry blend of sophistication and innocence that's always three degrees off-center can only be satisfied by candy-colored movies such as "Mr. Accident."

In terms of style, Serious, the red mop-wig-wearing comedian, falls somewhere between Adam Sandler and frenetic Jim Carrey - with a touch of Jackie Chan thrown in. Just like Chan, the Aussie is an avid student of Hollywood's silent comedies. What fascinates Serious are the comic possibilities in the laws of physics.

The opening of "Mr. Accident" is all Serious, trashing his apartment through an elaborate series of mishaps that begins when he walks sleepily into the kitchen to fix breakfast. A broken kitchen faucet sprays water, which he tries to deflect with a frying pan onto the flames coming from an electric toaster. Of course, that only makes matters worse. My favorite part is when he accidentally turns his canister-type vacuum cleaner into a flame thrower.

And like the Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, Serious fills his movies with hilarious fashions and set decor. The ambitious Australian plays accident-prone Roger Crumpkin. The living room of his ninth-floor walk-up features an entire wall covered with a billboard-like wallpaper picture of a placid mountain lake.

Roger is a maintenance man whose bobby is taking things apart (never putting them back together). Offer him a cigarette and instead of smoking it, he lists its components: filter material, filter wrapper, tobacco, tobacco paper. He's compulsive.

The plot thickens when evil boss (David Field) learns that Roger is dating his girlfriend Sunday (a good-hearted blonde who is trying to contact alien life forms), and when Roger discovers the evil boss is injecting all the factory's eggs with nicotine to make them addictive. The boss says it is good for business. Idealistic Roger has other ideas.