The Accidental Husband (2008) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for some sexual content and brief strong language
Running Time: 90 min.
Cast: Uma Thurman, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Colin Firth, Sam Shepard, Ajay Naidu, Isabella Rossellini, Keir Dullea, Justina Machado
Director: Griffin Dunne
Screenplay: Mimi Hare, Clare Naylor, Bonnie Sikowitz
Warning: The following review will contain some spoilers, especially the first paragraph. The film is so predictable, this caveat is somewhat debatable, but I still feel the need to offer fair warning. Read at your own risk.
Here is a full plot synopsis for what happens to be the most asinine concept of romantic love I may have heard in a film that boasts it: Patrick (Morgan, Dead & Breakfast), a fireman whose fiancé jilts him due to the advice of Emma Lloyd (Thurman, My Super Ex-Girlfriend), a radio talk show advice guru, is seriously pissed off. He's so pissed off, when he hears that Emma is about to be married herself, he allows a computer whiz-kid to hack into public records and create a phony marriage between himself and Emma, because he wants to force a confrontation. Emma is told she can't marry her perfect-gentleman fiancé, Richard (Firth, The Last Legion), because she is already married. She has no choice but to confront Patrick, who, rather than tell her why he did it, decides to repeatedly lie to her about his intentions. In fact, after stringing her along with lie upon lie, he comes to the conclusion that he fancies her, and is going to make a play for her romantically. He proceeds to inject himself into her life, causes her to to have to lie herself to her beloved future husband, and uses his immense charisma to eventually get her in the sack. She catches on to his shenanigans and intends to pursue her marriage to the honorable man she has been cheating on, Richard, but by this point, he feels he will always have to question her resolve and honesty, so he lets her go. The film ends when we discover that Emma has been knocked up by Patrick, who has apparently won in his quest to steal her away.
Color me unromantic if you will, as I'm sure those involved with the making of this feeble romantic comedy think I'm missing the point of the film with my all-too-real view of their plotline, but I guess I'm one of those "real love" people the "romantic love" proponents find all too misguided. It's hard to root people on when you see a perfectly decent guy treated so poorly by the woman he loves, and to lose her to someone who has no problem screwing the guy over because he also develops feelings for her. All might be fair in love and war, but not all's funny. The really funny thing is that I don't think this is romantic love at all. It's actually the all-too-real love, where people are cheated on because of a lusty yen they have that they find impossible to be denied. By trying to skew this the other way and claim cheating with someone you can't resist is romantic, and that finding Mr. Right is a pipe dream, I think it loses any claim to call itself a romance. Given the lack of laughs, it should also lose claim to be called a comedy as well.
Of course, the idiotic plot involves at least two people of above average intelligence doing the dumbest things imaginable for it to actually work. A trip to a lawyer, or even the police, would have resolved the situation before it began. Of course, this isn't a story about "real love", or even "real life", but a supposed fairy tale where anything can happen, if you're blissfully ignorant enough. Yes, a new song has emerged, so sing along -- fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you, if you're dumb at heart.
With slapstick instead of wit, contrivances instead of story, and typical rom-com developments that involve people singing, dancing, and doing embarrassing things in public as a way of showing true love, this is about as desperate as it gets in the narrative scheme of things. Perhaps Uma Thurman fans will enjoy seeing her showing the can play effervescent as well as she does the alluring seductress, even if she must resort to performing slapstick to make this fiasco passable as a comedy, but outside of this, it's substandard in nearly every other respect. Firth is wasted on a thankless cuckold role, while the other morally dubious characters all extol the virtues of heeding the call of ones loins and the heart will follow, let the mind be damned.
©2008 Vince Leo