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The Accidental Husband (2008)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 11/10/2009

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Video: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/11/2009

Welcome to this week's installment of "I've heard of these people, why haven't I heard of this movie?" Although, this one could be called, "I haven't heard of this movie, but I feel like I've seen this movie before."

When we watch a fantasy or science-fiction movie, or even a horror or action film, we shouldn't go in expecting all of it to be believable. At some point, the writer's imagination should kick in and show us something that will stretch the laws of plausibility or simply be completely fanciful and unrealistic. However, when we are watching a movie based in reality and something far-fetched happens, this can pull the audience out of the film. This is just one of the problems with The Accidental Husband.

Uma Thurman stars in The Accidental Husband as Dr. Emma Lloyd, a radio talk-show host who dispenses relationship advice. She has a loyal following of listeners who love her no-nonsense approach to helping others. One day, a woman named Sofia (Justina Machado) calls and tells Emma that she is having second thoughts about her wedding. Emma tells Sofia to follow her heart, and thus, Emma calls off her impending nuptials to firefighter, Patrick Sullivan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). As if that weren't bad enough, Patrick happened to be listening to the show and vows revenge on Emma.

Some time later, Emma is preparing to marry Richard Bratton (Colin Firth), who also happens to be the publisher of her new book. Patrick has his young friend Ajay (Jeffery Tedmori) hack into the courthouse computer and fix it so that Patrick and Emma are legally married. When Emma and Richard go to get their marriage license, they are stunned to learn that Emma already has a husband and that it's someone that they've never heard of. Determined to get this "glitch" fixed, Emma tracks down Patrick and asks him to sign annulment papers. At first, Patrick is pleased to see how flustered Emma is, but neither expected to have sparks fly when they met.

Confused yet? This unnecessarily complex idea is simply the jumping off point for a movie which is full of characters and plot diversions. The movie is so focused on this wacky set-up that it leaves out a lot of details which may have helped the viewer. Why does Patrick live above an Indian restaurant? Why does Emma have an icy relationship with her father (Sam Shepard) and call him by his first name? What’s the deal with her father’s girlfriend? We learn next to nothing about the relationship between Emma and Richard. It’s as if the movie expects us to simply see them as two successful people and accept the fact that they should be a couple. In other words, this romantic-comedy doesn’t seem very interested in exploring some of the romance.

And now I guess we’ll get back to the main premise. Is it creative? Sure, why not. Is it believable? No -- not in the least. I don’t know who decided that what was missing from other romantic comedies was a good hacking. The fact that someone would go to these lengths to get revenge on a stranger is ludicrous and the way in which it’s carried out is laughable. I usually don’t get hung up on the legal and civic details in a movie, but come on...

And then we have to buy the fact that Emma would fall for Patrick. Why would that happen? In short, this is the kind of film where the woman is with the “stuffy” man, but falls for the “rugged” man. But, beyond that, I wasn’t buying it. Patrick does nothing to make himself likable -- not only to Emma, but to anyone else. Is it because he’s a New York fireman? Is it because he’s Jeffrey Dean Morgan? I don’t know, as the movie doesn’t go out of its way to try and explain why Emma would like him.

On paper, The Accidental Husband looks great. You’ve got a cast of notable stars and actor-turned-director Griffin Dunne behind the camera. And yet, when we take a step back and really examine the movie, what we’ve got is simply a bigger version of a Lifetime Movie which more bankable stars. Having the budget to hire recognizable actors and create set-pieces like the elaborate Indian party don’t make a good movie. From what I’ve read, The Accidental Husband was shot in 2006 and is just now seeing the light of day. This is never a good sign. While this looks like a fun rom-com with familiar actors, it's actually a wasted of time.

The Accidental Husband says "ring-dings" way too many times on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is relatively sharp and clear. The image shows no overt grain or defects from the source material. However, the picture is slightly hazy and the colors bleed into one another. At first, I decided that I was simply spoiled by Blu-rays. But, as the film proceeded and my wife commented on the look, I came to the conclusion that the picture is far from perfect. The image is never too dark or too bright, and those bleeding colors do look realistic. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. For a romantic comedy, we get fairly good sound here. The opening credits offer a nice surround sound test, as the voices from the radio show move around the room. The street scenes provide good stereo and surround effects, which are fairly detailed. We get some mild subwoofer action from the in-film music.

The Accidental Husband DVD contains only one extra. "Matters of the Heart: The Making of The Accidental Husband" (21 minutes) is a semi-detailed featurette which explores the film's production. We get comments from the main cast and Dunne, as well as a nice amount of on-set footage. They discuss the cast and characters and the story. The actors discuss working with Dunne.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long