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Accidental Husband, The
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by brianorndorf

"Uma Thurman needs a man"
2 stars

“The Accidental Husband” is looking to perch comfortably on a fluffy, soft cushion of predictable romantic comedy machinations. This is not a taxing picture, settling on a checklist of routine comedy ideas and performance speeds that were established eons ago. It appears all that’s truly missing is a healthy chunk of charisma.

When controversial radio relationship talk show host Dr. Emma Lloyd (Uma Thurman) convinces fireman Patrick Sullivan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) girlfriend to break it off on the air, the blue-collar New Yorker isn’t going to take the humiliating rejection lying down. With the help of some clever internet hacking, Sullivan manipulates a marriage certificate to Lloyd as a gag, only to find the high-strung host horrified with this hiccup in her love life. Petitioning Sullivan for an annulment, Lloyd finds his brutish, spontaneous ways exciting, putting her more traditional pairing with bookish Richard (Colin Firth) at risk.

Director Griffin Dunne isn’t the right cinematic captain to bring “Accidental Husband” to life. Fighting upstream with a laborious, contrived script, Dunne spends most of the picture trying to make the ill-formed pieces fit, staging slapstick in a workmanlike fashion and placing the melodrama in a sleeper hold. The film is hinged on unapologetic formula, looking to enchant the viewer through the act of repetition, but the writing isn’t smart enough to wipe the dust off the plot. Instead, “Husband” is a series of lethargic character interactions and recognizable twists of fate, and Dunne doesn’t seem to care.

Saving the film to a minuscule degree are the lively performances. Thurman and Morgan share a likeable chemistry as the unlikely pair, with both actors breathlessly hamming it up in their exaggerated roles. It’s an amusing overextension of reaction, especially from Thurman, who buzzes around the film with disarming bridal anxiety. Thurman is a gifted comedienne, she just needs a better agent. Morgan beefs up the “Noo Yawk” role with faint entertainment value, but the performances are rarely grounded when the actors share the frame, pounding the script for any droplet of screen magic available. “Husband” never struck me as a crucial story to tell while watching the picture, but the actors instill the film with a few moments of oxygen. Their efforts are welcomed.

Firth? He could play the uptight doofus role in his sleep.

When the sludgy plot turns take their rightful place in the third act push to the finish line, “Husband” falls unconscious; the picture assumes this great love affair between two strangers is holding an undeniable pull that tenderly examines the needs of the human heart. The script also rolls through a series of moldy misunderstandings, leading to a tiring, conventional wedding day conclusion of insufferable developments. Of course, many romantic films have sprinted to the finish line in the same fashion, but what separates “Accidental Husband” from this long, cherished list of classics? A palpable attempt at invention.

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originally posted: 11/07/09 01:14:46
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User Comments

4/27/12 Joe C Say goodnight Gracie...I mean Uma 1 stars
3/04/11 Carol Mr. Darcy can't sing, dance or be funny, but he sure can stutter. 1 stars
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  N/A (PG-13)
  DVD: 10-Nov-2009


  DVD: 10-Nov-2009

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