The Observer (Mar 2, 2008, by Philip French)
The feeble plot of Griffin Dunne's dull The Accidental Husband depends on a flimsy plotting device that a single phonecall or letter from a lawyer would have solved overnight. Uma Thurman stars as the host of a New York radio show offering advice on love and marriage and finds herself torn between her fiancé, a pompous, immaculately dressed British publisher (Colin Firth), who lives in a glossy Manhattan apartment and a newcomer to her life, a burly, tattooed Irish-American firefighter (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) who has a small flat above an Indian restaurant in Astoria, Queens. There could have been an element of surprise if the publisher had gone off with the fireman.
(Mar 2, 2008, by Henry Fitzherbert)
As Statham expands his range, Colin Firth plays another stiff Brit in a picture that will do him no favours.
The Accidental Husband is the kind of mechanical romantic comedy that gives the genre a bad name.
...So begins an achingly contrived romance as Emma tries to persuade Patrick to sign the necessary documents annulling the “marriage”. Inevitably, she finds herself falling for his rugged charm, leaving a pent-up Firth to fret about the interior decoration of their marital home.
Thurman strains to be light and comedic but she can’t do cute and her prat-falling is embarrassing. The leaden script also offers her no decent lines or set-pieces.
Only someone who has never seen a rom-com could enjoy it.
|The Telegraph (Feb
29, 2008 by Tim Robey)
Uma Thurman can do one or two things well, but she's a pure death knell to romantic comedy.
Here Uma is dispensing insane love advice on the radio, and finds herself preyed upon by a jilted fireman (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), whose bizarre idea of payback is to hack into the marriage registry and claim to be her husband. This comes as a shock to Uma's prissy fiancé (Colin Firth, doomed in waistcoats), who can only roll his eyes as the epically dull machinery of Hollywood match-making contrives to cuckold him out of his own nuptials.
Griffin Dunne's film lacks the faintest spark of originality.
Independent (Feb 29, 2008, by Anthony Quinn) - 1 out of 5 stars
Even taking into account the dismal pedigree of director Griffin Dunne (Practical Magic, Addicted to Love) and writer Bonnie Sikowitz, one could hardly have predicted this shocker.
Uma Thurman plays a New York agony-aunt DJ who flouts her own advice and falls for the hunky fireman Jeffrey Dean Morgan, despite being already engaged to the clean-cut Brit Colin Firth.
A plot of insufferable silliness contrives to keep the lovers on tenterhooks and the audience in a permanent cringe, none of it helped by Thurman's thoroughly phony performance—Firth looks comparatively sincere. Just one laugh would have been something, but Sikowitz could not oblige us even that.
|The Mirror (Feb
29, 2008 by David Edwards)
Accident is right. And as far as accidents go, this is somewhere between falling over and shattering both hips, and mistakenly leaving the gas on and killing your entire family.
In a rom-com that’s predictable, formulaic, deathly dull and packed with clichés, Uma Thurman is New York radio host Emma Lloyd who hands out wisdom and advice to the city’s unlucky in love.
When not dispensing “chicken soup for the heart” to her listeners, she’s busy planning her wedding to safe but dull fiancé Richard (Colin Firth). But, for reasons verging on the unfathomable, Emma discovers she’s already married to someone else and so sets about tracking down the husband she’s never met. And that someone just happens to be a hunky, newly-single firefighter (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). You can guess where it all goes from there.
Thurman is tolerable, Firth stretches himself to play yet another stuffed shirt while Morgan irritates like an jockstrap made from asbestos.
Reprising his role from the recent PS I Love You as an eminently slappable cheeky chappy, I spent the entire film hoping he’d suffer a fatal accident by falling from the top of his fireman’s ladder.
|TimeOut London (by
Trevor Johnson) - 2 out of 5 stars
Dispenser of stern advice on her NYC radio phone-in, broadcaster Uma Thurman’s about to wed her publisher fiancé (Colin Firth), only to discover the registry office database already has her married to some guy in Brooklyn. That’s fireman Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who’s fuming after the radio host talked his fiancée into calling off their nuptials and, with help from a techy whizzkid, has taken his revenge.
A tussle over the annulment sets in motion the familiar rom-com tropes of choosing between seemingly opposite suitors and initial antipathy sparking made-for-each-other passion. Uma works hard to convince us she’s funny, and though the effort’s obvious, we’re rooting for her—if only her choices made any sense.
Dean Morgan’s cheeky-chappy act is grating indeed, while his tight-lipped rival’s so utterly stolidly Firthian we could easily be watching his Madame Tussaud’s mannequin. Painless anodyne fare, though genuine laughs are few, apart from comfort-eating Firth’s illicit ‘naughty choccy’.
|The Guardian (Feb
29, 2008, by Peter Bradshaw) - 1 out of 5 stars
This week we learned that 99% of Sun readers want a return to capital punishment. I learned that 100% of me wants it for 100% of people involved in this romcom. Uma Thurman plays a—actually, wait ... Uma Thurman doesn't do anything as dramatically intelligible as "play" anything. She grins, mugs and capers like a whippet on crack in the role of Emma, a radio advice doctor with a wussy British fiance, Richard (Colin Firth), whom she is all too clearly destined to leave for hunky firefighter Patrick (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). As ever with this kind of romcom, there's an awful hint of the non-chemistry of its actors in the poster. If you get a moment, look at Colin Firth's face, smiling tightly like a waxwork, in Uma's vague direction. It's the face of an actor concentrating on his fee.
|The Scotsman (Feb
29, 2008, by Alistair Harkness)
HOWLER OF THE WEEK: Uma Thurman can be great when Quentin Tarantino is feeding her lines and fashion tips, but not when she's trying to be rom-com adorable, and definitely not when she's trying to be rom-com adorable while drunk. Slamming shots while reciting a roll-call of American presidents in a bar full of firemen, she's so embarrassingly unfunny in The Accidental Husband, a collective audience blackout is the only thing that will make her seem cool again.
|Irish Times (Feb
29, 2008. by Donald Clarke) - 1 out of 5 stars
Here's an interesting thing. Brooke Adams and Sam Shepard, both looking attractively weathered, are here united for the first time since delivering iconic performances in Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven 30 years ago.
Now, I never thought I'd get to mention that eccentric film when I sat down to watch this depressingly abysmal romantic comedy. It seems even less likely that The Accidental Husband might call to mind 2001: A Space Odyssey, but the evil German businessman is, indeed, played by that film's Keir Dullea. This is like being trapped in an episode of The Twilight Zone concerning a plot by the Bad Movie Falange to imprison all their enemies from the Good Movie Militia. We have to make it stop.
The time when we might have described The Accidental Husband as the nail in the coffin of the romcom has long passed. This wad of trash might better be imagined as withered flowers cast on a grave from which even the worms have fled. It is clumsy, cynical, badly acted, hopelessly sentimental and consistently illogical. I'm only sorry Doris Day is still alive to see it.
The point at which the ghastly mess collapses in upon itself comes when posh Isabella Rosselini has her second meeting with talk-radio star Uma Thurman. It goes something like this:
Some weeks before her marriage to Colin Firth, a snobbish publisher, Thurman advises a listener to ditch her own fiance. When the unfortunate schlub, a fireman played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, discovers the cause of his beloved's retreat, he arranges for a hacker to alter the city records in such a way as to suggest that he (Morgan) and she (Thurman) are married. It's a prank, you see. In the course of their attempts to dissolve the fake marriage, Thurman and Morgan encounter Rossellini and, for no reason, entertain her misconception that they are engaged.
Still with me? Some days later, it becomes clear that Isabel's evil husband is set to buy Firth's firm and liquidate him.
What's that noise? Is it the sound of narrative gears grinding against one another? Maybe it's the sound of Thurman repeatedly banging her head against cupboards, doors and bookshelves in her attempts to inject humour into this witless farrago.
Smash your face against the wall one more time, Uma. You are dazed and nauseous, you say. Now you know how we feel.
(Feb 28, 2008, by Wendy Ide) - 1 out of 5 stars
There is some depressing slack-jawed idiocy and sentimental fluff on offer in The Accidental Husband. Uma Thurman stars as Emma, a radio talk-show host who guides her impressionable listeners through their relationship crises with well-practised soundbites about being realistic in their choice of man. This backfires when a young woman dumps her fiancé Patrick, a rough and ready firefighter played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and he swears to teach Emma a lesson about minding her own business. Bizarrely, he does this by hacking into the county hall records office and “marrying” Emma without her knowledge. This proves problematic for Emma's genuine wedding plans, with the stalwart publisher Richard (Colin Firth, maintaining his dignity despite the dismal quality of the material).
The mutual attraction between Emma and Patrick is a preposterous piece of plotting: she's a highly-strung Manhattan princess; he's a soccer-playing, beer-swilling, blue-collar bloke. Certainly opposites sometimes attract but surely they need to be in the same universe first? But the most contrived device in the film is the “ethnic colour”, courtesy of Patrick's neighbours, a family of Asian stereotypes who chuckle and chatter winningly, like animated wallpaper.
|The Herald (Feb
28, 2008, by Alison Rowat) - 1 star
Fancy a fluffy romantic comedy that will send you into the mother of all bad moods? Then try Griffin Dunne's smug clunker. Uma Thurman plays Dr Emma Lloyd, radio host and self-styled relationship expert. Dr Em, a tall blonde cross between Carrie Bradshaw and Frasier Crane, is due to marry her dapper English publisher (Colin Firth). Everything is sugar and spice and all things lacey, but due to a complicated set of events, each one beggaring belief, it turns out Emma is married already to one of New York City's firefighting finest (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). What is a girl to do? You'll care less about Em's fate than the woeful lack of chemistry between the three leads and a script that's about as funny as a fire in a pet shop. As for Thurman, she can do comedy about as well as Daffy Duck can do brain surgery. While you might wish to spend good money watching the attempt, be prepared for the grisly outcome.
(Feb 28, 2008, by Derek Malcolm) – 1 out of 5 stars
Words almost fail me after watching this terrible romantic comedy from Griffin Dunne which is perilously described as a "sort of Carole Lombard screwball comedy". Would that it were.
Uma Thurman, who produced, too, plays the Lombard role of Dr Emma Lloyd, a New York radio DJ dispensing practical advice to the lovelorn, although she's totally unable to keep her own romancing in any kind of order. She is due to be married to Richard (Colin Firth), her well-off and dependable fiancé, but suddenly makes the discovery that City Hall records have her down as already married. This bureaucratic foul-up can't apparently be rectified and it is made all the worse when she meets Jeffrey Dean Morgan's fireman, who has come to her for advice after a jilting. Of course, they fall for one another and it leaves Firth with one of those awful parts he must now be familiar with—the gentlemanly lover who lets the girl go.
Thurman plays the so-called comedy for all it is worth and sometimes considerably more, as if Pulp Fiction and Tarantino were but distant and happier memories. Morgan looks like a bit of boring rough trade to me. Sam Shepard, Isabella Rossellini and Lindsay Sloane are also in the cast but are left floundering as the clichés mount.
There's a nice Bollywood song by AH Rahman over the end credits—and this really looks like a bad Bollywood movie without the songs. Carole Lombard would have had a fit.
|BBC (Feb 26, 2008,
by Stella Papamichael) - 2 out of 5 stars
Making a lifetime commitment to a solid, sensible fellow like Colin Firth proves a sticking point for Uma Thurman's loopy love doctor in The Accidental Husband. In the real world, having to give up just ninety minutes for this hopelessly convoluted comedy is already asking too much. It seems that Thurman comes across best with a cool air of menace (mostly in the films of Quentin Tarantino) whereas, in this case, she's forced to break a sweat for barely a chuckle.
An added strain on the situation comes in the bulky shape of Jeffrey Dean Morgan. He plays a New York firefighter with a big heart but really bad table manners who plants a seed of doubt in the mind of the soon-to-be-wed doctor. It's a romance sparked by a series of clumsy contrivances and it never threatens to set the screen alight. Likewise, as the oh-so English cuckold, Firth is resolutely wet. And not in a pond-dipped Mr Darcy kind of way but in the insufferable 'chin-up and soldier on regardless' mode of a 19th century butler.
Even though he's pitted against such a feeble love rival, Morgan (supposedly the hero) gives us few reasons to care about his lonely existence when, first, he tricks Dr Lloyd into an affair using a faked marriage certificate and, second, has all the personality of chopped liver. Only Sam Shepard conveys a modicum of sincerity playing Dr Lloyd's quietly concerned father. Between the leads the dialogue flows without any snap or sass and Thurman resorts to falling over and repeatedly bumping her head to get a laugh. It's a futile effort. With such a half-hearted script and Griffin Dunne's casual direction, these attempts to inject screwball energy end up feeling more like desperate cries for help. The prognosis: a total emotional block.
26, 2008, by Allan Hunter)
Uma Thurman's recent track record with romantic comedy is not auspicious—neither Prime (2005) nor My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006) turned out to be major box-office contenders. The Accidental Husband, however, should improve her standing in this genre.
There is nothing unpredictable about this glossy, screwball-style saga of misunderstandings and home truths, but it is executed with such smooth professionalism and easy warmth that it should appeal to the same, largely female, audience which made the recent P.S. I Love You such a substantial hit. UK distributor Momentum should garner sturdy returns from the early Spring title in advance of a US August release.
In Accidental Husband, Thurman plays New York radio talk show host Emma Lloyd. Her advice to the lovelorn is sensible and practical: "You can't trust what you merely lust." One listener treats her opinions as gospel and breaks off her engagement to firefighter Patrick (Morgan). In search of revenge, Patrick uses a friend's skills at computer hacking to secretly marry Emma, which rather spoils her plans for a dream wedding to fiance Richard (Firth), a decent, straitlaced publisher who is devoted to her.
So much you can gather from the trailer. But untangling the messy complications of Patrick's impulsive actions provides the basis of a mainstream crowdpleaser in which Emma is forced to confront whether she really knows what is best for the world or herself and in which the outcome is never in any doubt.
The material may be strictly routine but director Griffin Dunne refuses to just go through the motions. He presents New York as a city of romantic encounters and lush locations. He finds moments within a trim running time to add flavour to the blandness through secondary supporting characters like Emma's father Wilder (Sam Shepard), businessman's wife Greta (Isabella Rossellini) and Patrick's Indian/American friend Deep (Ajay Naidu).
Dunne has also ensured a perfect fit between characters and performer. Colin Firth is cast to type as the uptight, conventional Richard. Jeffrey Dean Morgan has the same kind of goofy lummox charm that endeared the young Sylvester Stallone to the world but with considerably more hunk appeal. Thurman is perfectly at home with the manic flustered Emma as she learns to abandon her inhibitions and embrace the world of spontaneity and fun that Patrick represents.
The Accidental Husband is undoubtedly laboured, especially when it strays into slapstick territory and the comedy of embarrassment—Emma drunkenly passes out in a bar and seems unnaturally klutzy for someone so confident of herself, for example, while Richard's habit of guzzling chocolate and comfort-eating seems a half-hearted attempt to breathe life into a character destined to become the other man.
Critics and film buffs may lament the fact that this kind of comedy was done with so much more panache in the days of Jean Arthur and Cary Grant but modern audiences are unlikely to prove quite so critical. The Accidental Husband will not win any awards but it does deliver undemanding, happy ending escapism.
|Shadows on the Wall
(Feb 25, 2008, by Rich Cline) - 1-/1.2 stars
The opening act of this rom-com almost convinces us something fresh and enjoyable is on its way. Then it quickly drowns in a sea of corny slapstick, trite plotting and sappy sentiment.
It's pretty clear from the start who Emma will end up with: suave, upscale entrepreneur Richard or rough-around-the-edges firefighter Patrick. Not really a fair fight, eh? So it's kind of ridiculous that the screenwriters try so hard, over and over, to throw every conceivable wrench into the situation, making sure that no one behaves even remotely like an authentic human being. For one thing, no one bothers to actually talk to each other, which would have made the film about 15 minutes long. Pity.
At least the cast members go for it. Thurman indulges in big emotional reactions, happy and sad, and also throws herself fully into the haphazardly staged slapstick. She does manage to generate some spiky chemistry with Morgan, which is all that sustains the film, really. He's quite engaging in the scruffy, "wrong man" role, and contrasts well against the effortlessly smooth Firth, who actually manages to redeem his character in the end. Star-powered supporting players like Shepard, Rossellini and Adams fill the edges nicely, even if they're half asleep.
In the end, the film is a hodge-podge of random story elements that seem to emerge from the land that logic forgot, including a Bollywood segment. Running gags start and stop at random, and their pay-offs are abandoned for a shockingly silly-slushy climax, followed by an even worse coda. In the end, the film is just a huge waste of slick production values and an otherwise talented cast.
(Feb 24, 2008, by Mark Adams) * * *
The verdict: This engaging screwball comedy is a wonderfully frothy affair, with the statuesque Uma Thurman impressive as the prim agony aunt forced to address her own feelings about love. A classy cast helps the film breeze along.
Final Cut Screwball rom-com is a tasty affair.