Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Accidental Husband (Griffin Dunne, 2008)

Uma Thurman plays Emma Lloyd, a popular radio agony aunt who specializes in advice pertaining to the matters of the heart. She is engaged to caring but stuffy publisher Richard (played by the quintessential stiff upper lip performer, Colin Firth), but one day, after giving advice to a woman that has her ditching her fireman fiancée, finds herself on the receiving end of some computer hacking retribution as his younger brother makes them engaged. Emma, utterly baffled by the whole situation, sets about finding the fireman (Patrick, played by relatively unknown actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan), only to find that, surprise surprise, the course of true love never ran smooth.

Even the performances aren’t up to much. Uma Thurman is best known for her fierce performance as The Bride in Kill Bill, but has shown that she can dos whimsical and cutesy in The Truth About Cats and Dogs. However, in this film, she’s difficult to take seriously and borders on annoying. The scenes which have clearly been played for laughs – when Emma gets drunk in a bar after being tricked into taking shots – are awkwardly staged and downright unfunny. Colin Firth fails to bring any dimension to the caricature of a stuffy Brit, but Jeffrey Dean Morgan is comfortably the best of the three leads in an exuberant performance. It’s a nice surprise top see screen siren Isabella Rossellini pop up in a less dramatic role than we are used to seeing from her, but her fleeting cannot elevate the tired script despite her best efforts.

It’s hard to find a single scene that isn’t embarrassing. There is a complete lack of chemistry between Thurman and Firth, and Thurman and Dean Morgan, leading to the rather blatant conclusion that the film’s heroine would perhaps be better off if she was simply single. In one scene where Patrick masquerades as Richard and talks football is clunky – he mispronounces “Bayern Munich” and the football repartee between the characters is utterly unimpressive. The scenes where Colin Firth’s character is hollering at Emma down the phone are a pain in the arse and really makes you question why she wants to marry this fool.

The film looks to send up all those tired self-help books, which is fair enough, but the criticisms that  Patrick raises of Emma’s book paints it as so bad that it’s utterly unbelievable that it would ever get printed in the first place. And whilst the film tries to capture Emma’s emotional torment in choosing between the two men, the way she keeps falling into increasingly bizarre scenarios doesn’t ring true, and the fickle way in which Emma falls in and out of love is unconvincing to the extreme, and thus, we don’t really care WHO she goes for, we just want the damn film to end. There's an obligatory sex scene bunged in but like the rest of the film, it fails to titilate.

As 2011’s Bridesmaids showed, Hollywood can both have fun and produce an entertaining end product when producing films about the hustle and bustle that leads up to a wedding. But Bridesmaids featured strong performances, an amazingly wicked script and everything just clicking. There is no sass, and certain no click in The Accidental Husband, which doesn’t so much feel like a romantic comedy as it does a short collection of unfunny skits. It’s a shame seeing the considerable talents of Thurman and Firth wasted, but the key to building a sweet romantic comedy is for the romance to feel believable. The relationship between Annie and Officer Rhodes in Bridesmaids was tentative, often clumsy, but overall realistic and touching. The way in which Emma finds “love” in this film is nothing more than a series of sketches where Uma Thurman gets to flounce about in pretty New York apparel. Real life just isn’t like that. And this is not a good film.

Grade: F.


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mighty student said...

saw this movie it is weird to be with the girl that advices your ex to ditch you and you end up with her . Guess not in the movies Uma here was so hot

Jenny said...

Man, I 'saw' this film (well, without sound, it was on in the background) while having drinks in a student bar a year or so ago. It was ridiculously predictable and awkward even without the dialogue...

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