Should I Watch..? The Accidental Husband
What's the big deal?
The Accidental Husband is a romantic comedy film released in 2008 and was directed by Griffin Dunne. It stars Uma Thurman, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Colin Firth and Isabella Rossellini and is based on an original screenplay by Mimi Hare, Clare Naylor and Bonnie Sikowitz. The film follows Emma, a talk-radio host who has unexpected consequences to deal with after advising a woman to call off her relationship with firefighter Patrick. Due to be released in the US in 2008, it was shelved after the collapse of its distributor Yari Film Group before eventually being released straight-to-video the following year. Despite this, the film still made a total of $22 million and is also being considered for a Bollywood remake. As someone dragged to the pictures for this nonsense (the film did receive a theatrical release in the UK), I beg them to reconsider.
What's it about?
New York firefighter Patrick Sullivan is looking forward to his forthcoming marriage to his fiancée Sofia but she isn't so sure. Calling in to famous radio love doctor Emma Lloyd, she asks her for advice and Emma advices Sofia to call it off - which she then does. Devastated, Patrick decides a little pay back is in order and with the help of his neighbour Ajay, hacks into the state's public records office and registers himself as being married to Emma - thus disrupting her own wedding plans to marry her publisher Richard.
When the ruse is discovered, Emma tracks Patrick down and pleads with him to annul the marriage but he decides to have some fun first by pretending to Emma's clients to be Richard. But gradually, Patrick and Emma find themselves falling for each other for real. Can either of them fight their feelings and will common sense win the day? What do you think?
Dr Emma Lloyd
Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Frau Greta Bollenbecker
Mimi Hare, Clare Naylor & Bonnie Sikowitz
Release Date (UK)
29th February, 2008
What's to like?
Male fans of Uma Thurman will take some comfort from the fact that she looks amazing in this insipid excuse for a comedy. Yes, there are one or two moments that raise a smile (granted, I can't think of them right now but I'm sure they're there) but generally speaking, this is a tired and unimaginative slog through every single rom-com cliché in the Hollywood Book of Formulae. It's one of those annoying films that looks OK in the trailer but then sucker-punches you by utterly moronic, as romantic as an hour in a walk-in freezer and about as funny as roadkill.
By far the most curious casting is Morgan who isn't classically handsome like Firth is and yet is pitched against him. He looks and feels more like Brad Garrett than Brad Pitt and whoever thought that makes an ideal leading man in a rom-com badly dropped the ball. Even the clumsy Photoshopped poster is awkward to look at. The only cast member who deserves any kind of credit is Ajay Naidu as Patrick's friend Deep - he has the best lines and the best scenes but nobody will remember him after the movie.
- When Patrick and Emma first meet in the bar, he introduces her as "the bride". Thurman played a character called The Bride in both Kill Bill: Volume 1 and Kill Bill: Volume 2.
- Morgan also played a firefighter in an episode of ER back in 2001. At least he doesn't lose a leg in The Accidental Husband although it would be more interesting than the movie itself.
- One of its posters (shown above) is often cited as an example of how badly things can go wrong using Photoshop. Aside from Firth's freakishly big hands, it is obvious that neither him or Morgan are actually standing there - in fact, I suspect Firth is entirely made up of other people.
What's not to like?
Instead, if they remember anything at all, they'll remember a film that treats the audience with utter contempt. Why on God's Earth would anybody register themselves as married to someone they loath just to upset their wedding plans? What's wrong with him phoning in and mouthing off or crashing the ceremony to embarrass her - it's much easier and more realistic than any of this pish. Nothing about The Accidental Husband feels anything like real life - take Firth's under-written nice-guy character. Who is he and why does he stress-eat? And why are his hands bigger than his entire head in the poster?
Don't get me wrong, I can enjoy a good rom-com but this is as bad an example as I've ever seen. There is zero chemistry between any of the cast, the comedy is not funny or original, there isn't anything in this film that surprises you (other than the shocking appearance of Rossellini in dross like this) and the film strings out its nonsensical plot to breaking point and is done after just a hour and a half, though it feels longer. I couldn't help but notice that Griffin's only other directorial contribution was to one segment of the equally reprehensible Movie 43 and if there is any justice then that should be that.
Should I watch it?
No. In fact, if you're thinking of watching The Accidental Husband then I forbid to read any more of my articles.
I think I've made my point.
Great For: proving that talented actors can make turkeys, Uma Thurman watching, the mute button
Not So Great For: date nights, people expecting a decent rom-com, anyone smarter than a foot stool
What else should I watch?
I can't think of many rom-coms as bad as this that I've seen but sometimes, one can come along and surprise you. Both Four Weddings And A Funeral and its spiritual successor Notting Hill provide both chemistry and humour in abundance and are excellent additions to an over-crowded genre. And if you want to sprinkle a little festive magic over such sloppy slush then Love Actually will be the stuff of dreams - it does get overly mushy but you can't fault its sentiment.
The three main leads deserve far better than this. For Heaven's sake, Uma Thurman was in Pulp Fiction! Morgan was a brilliant Comedian in Zack Snyder's dystopian superhero flick Watchmen while Firth plays it much better in Bridget Jones' Diary although he is just magnificent in The King's Speech. The three of them are no doubt talented but whatever motivation they had for this movie deserted them once the cameras started rolling and it is worryingly obvious.
© 2015 Benjamin Cox