Film review: The Accidental Husband (2008), directed by Griffin Dunne
Dr Emma Lloyd (Uma Thurman) gives relationship advice on a local radio station in New York City. Her style is to be realistic about love, because as much as we all love the idea of love, we’re not necessarily going to live happily ever after. Emma is so down to earth in her advice that she’s about 20 feet beneath it, still digging. In fact, she comes across as very bitter, which is surprising considering she’s engaged to be married to publisher Richard (Colin Firth).
One day, one of her many listeners call in – Sofia (Justina Machado) – and say she’s getting married on Saturday but has cold feet. The advice from Emma is to dump the fiancé if he doesn’t feel like the right guy, and move on. Said fiancé, Patrick (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), hears the show in the car, and … isn’t happy. Understandably. He had no idea there was trouble in paradise!
Seeing as how it’s known that Emma is getting married, the teenage son (Jeffrey Tedmori) of the family where Patrick’s boarding, hack into the city’s marriage records and fabricates a marriage license, saying Patrick and Emma are married, which means, in order for Emma to marry Richard, she first has to get the anulment papers signed by her legal husband. And to do that, she has to meet him – and, this being a romantic comedy, you know what’s bound to happen.
Also features Ajah Naidu as Patrick’s notary friend Deep, Sam Shepard as Emma’s dad, and the always remarkably beautiful Isabella Rossellini as Mrs Bollenbecker.
While Emma is tragically cynical and uptight, there’s no denying she’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. Okay, Richard is stress eating, but it’s just kinda cute when it’s Colin Firth. Oh, he’s marvellous. We know he’s a great actor, but when he’s in romantic comedies, he’s even more special. Or just romance, for that matter, he’s so good at it you can’t help but feel your heart flutter. I like how they never make him out to be a bad guy, which would have been very easy. After all, he was with Emma first, and there’s the whole English thing as well – so easy to have him turn nasty and difficult. Instead, he’s just wonderfully charming and really funny.
And then there’s Patrick. Jeffrey Dean Morgan has been in at least one other romantic film (P.S. I Love You), and I loved him there. He should do more of this kind of films, so we can swoon accordingly. I think he had some great chemistry with Uma Thurman, which was utterly delightful. He perhaps more with her than she with him. Strangely.
Film-wise, maybe it was a bit too predictable, too unbelievable, too implausible, too soppy, too silly, and what was that whole “Hindu Bar Mitzvah” about anyway? (Colours, lots of vibrant colours!) But you know what? I really didn’t care. Sure Emma needed to be knocked down a peg or two, and she was driving me bonkers, but it was a film that made me smile, feel all warm and fuzzy inside and came away from it feeling happy. That’s what a good romantic comedy is supposed to do. Mission accomplished.
5 out of 5 glasses of milk.