Vincent Donofrio and Marisa Tomei in "Happy Accidents"

I’ve been reading some articles about time travel; it’s a good way to make your head spin without the aid of alcohol.

The subject came up because we watched “Happy Accidents,” with Marisa Tomei and Vincent Donofrio. In this film, released in 2000, Tomei plays Ruby Weaver, a woman chronically unlucky in her relationships with men. She thinks her luck has changed when she becomes involved with Sam Deed (Donofrio), until he tells her that he is a traveler from the future – specifically from the year 2470.


Sam claims that he saw Ruby’s picture when he was living in Dubuque, and that he traveled through time, to Brooklyn, in search of her – though he doesn’t say why. As any person would, Ruby initially thinks Sam is either joking or deranged, but Sam won’t budge off his story. Ruby is particularly disturbed by a notebook in which Sam has repeatedly sketched the face of a woman — he claims it’s Ruby’s face — and written the words Chrystie Delancey — he claims she’s his “contact,” another time traveler who was assigned to give him his orientation when he arrived in the past — that is, the present.

This tale grows quite intense; in fact, I was surprised to see it listed on IMDb as a comedy, because there’s nothing funny about it.  It keeps us guessing whether we’re watching a fantasy in which Sam is telling the truth, or a tragedy in which Sam is either playing mind games with Ruby or is insane.

Underlying the story itself is the paradox that the notion of time travel to the past always poses — the question of causality. Namely, if time travel to the past were possible, would the time travelers, either by their mere presence or by their overt actions, change the course of events, change the future.

Donofrio and Tomei

I don’t think this movie did very well at the box office, but it’s a worthwhile property. The story is compelling, Tomei and Donofrio are both magnetic, and there are strong supporting performances by Tovah Feldshuh as Ruby’s mother, Holland Taylor as Ruby’s therapist — a pivotal role, and Nadia Dajani as Ruby’s best friend.

Several years ago, I read a book entitled The Physics of the Impossible by theoretical physicist Michio Kaku. In that book, Kaku explored some ideas that have been presented over the years in science fiction literature, films, and TV shows, and organized them according to how plausible they were. As I recall, he concluded that under the known laws of physics, time travel into the past was impossible and time travel into the future was possible, but not likely to become reality for many many years. If you’d like to see a somewhat comprehensible explanation of Albert Einstein’s view of time travel, click HERE.


After we watch a movie, we get a kick out of going to the International Movie Database site and check on the “goofs” that others have found in the film we just saw. We are amazed sometimes at the obscure things that people notice. For example, we recently saw “The Blind Side” and were amused to read on imdb that in the scene in which the actor playing Michael Oher is talking to an NCAA official, a Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurant is visible through the office window, whereas – the “goofs” page points out – there is no Maggiano’s in Memphis, where the story took place.


So the other night we watched on TV the 1993 movie “Untamed Heart” with Marisa Tomei and Christian Slater. There is a scene in that movie in which Slater’s character shows Tomei’s character a box containing several vinyl LPs that had been given to him by a nun when he left an orphanage. He puts one of the LPs on a turntable, and the first cut is a recording of Roger Williams playing “Nature Boy,” a song written by Eden Ahbez in 1947. At the end of the film, when Slater’s character has died, Tomei puts the same record on and listens to the same recording.


What imdb’s “goofs” page has missed so far, is that the jacket that that LP was taken from in both scenes is the RCA album “Enrico Caruso in Opera and Song.” I have owned that album for several decades and have played it enough times that I spotted the images of the tenor on the back of the jacket both times that it appeared in the film.

I’m old, but I’m still awake.