Acceptable but nothing special, The Accidental Husband has a couple of appealing performances from Uma Thurman and Jeffrey Dean Morgan and a better cast then you usually find in these films, but otherwise it’s strictly formula fare.
I’d call it a disappointment from actor-turned-director Griffin Dunne, but this is likely as good a film as the material will allow. Rom-com fans should enjoy it, and it’s harmless enough for others to sit through.
Dr. Emma Lloyd (Thurman) has a radio talk show where she advises callers about their love life; when Sofia (Justina Machado) calls in and professes some doubts about her future husband, Emma gives her some rather firm advice, causing Sofia to call off the wedding.
Ex-fiancé and fireman Patrick (Morgan) is understandably upset, and, of course, blames Emma for the breakup. Revenge: his hacker downstairs neighbor ‘marries’ Patrick and Emma with a forged online document. Now when Emma tries to marry nice guy Richard (Colin Firth), the bureaucrats tell her she’s already wed, and she needs to get documents signed by Patrick.
Of course, something like this wouldn’t happen in real life. If it did, a simple phone call should take care of it. At the very least, a high-powered radio talk show host would have her lawyer take care of it. But no, Emma goes to meet Patrick herself as The Accidental Husband hangs its plot around this precariously flimsy premise. I guess every film is allowed one implausibility.
You can see where the film is going from here, as the two mismatched characters start falling for each other. There’s no fun in that, and it’s all formula the rest of the way. Will she choose Mr. Nice-but-boring, who loves her and is willing to let her go, or the blunt New York fireman who sabotaged her relationship? These things rarely work out as they would in reality.
But for about 15 minutes in the middle, the film veers into some mild screwball comedy: Patrick tags along with Emma when she goes cake tasting, and he makes an impression on one of the other customers (Isabella Rossellini), who turns out to be the wife of Richard’s publisher (Keir Dullea). So Patrick stands in for Richard for the benefit of these two characters during a dinner party, which is the one good sequence in the movie.
Otherwise, there’s little new here. Firth is wasted, but Thurman and Morgan (who made an impact as The Comedian in Watchmen earlier this year) have some chemistry together. Sam Shepard shows up as Thurman’s father in scenes that don’t add much, but are just long enough for us to wonder what he’s doing here.
One real minus: the awful soundtrack, which is mostly early-90s stock stuff, the type that you might find on a late-night Cinemax softcore skin flick.
Note: The Accidental Husband was produced by the Yari Film Group, which went bankrupt in 2008 and has left a number of films (including the excellent Nothing But the Truth) under- or un-released. The Accidental Husband premiered in Britain in early 2008 and has slowly rolled out to other countries, but it has yet to be released in the US.