Judge Clark Douglas is married to you. You can't annul the marriage unless you read this review.
Falling in love…even the expert is confused.
"Your advice sucks!"
Facts of the Case
Dr. Emma Lloyd (Uma Thurman, Pulp Fiction) is a relationship expert and a nationally syndicated radio talk show host. She's currently engaged to Richard Bratton (Colin Firth, Nanny McPhee), her sensible and kind-hearted publisher. When Emma and Richard go to get their marriage license, they're given some shocking news: apparently, Emma is already married. Who's the husband? A New York firefighter named Patrick Sullivan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Watchmen), who created a fake marriage license as a way of getting back at Emma for destroying his previous relationship with terrible advice. Emma quickly seeks to undo the fake marriage, but finds herself examining her own life in the process. Is she really with the guy she wants to be with for the rest of her life?
Boy, this movie didn't turn out well, did it? I could talk about the fact that The Accidental Husband was supposed to receive a wide theatrical release, but instead was quietly shipped straight to DVD. I could talk about the fact that the usually excellent actress Uma Thurman tries way too hard to provide goofy slapstick comedy and achieves very little success. I could talk about Griffin Dunne's pedestrian direction, or about the way the film wastes the talents of old pros like Isabella Rossellini (The Saddest Music in the World) and Keir Dullea (2001: A Space Odyssey). But instead, I think I'll share with you a condensed version of the script by Mimi Hare, Claire Naylor & Bonnie Sikowitz and let that speak for itself.
The Accidental Husband: A Condensed Version with Lots of Spoilers
Emma (on the radio): Ladies out there, listen up. Falling passionately in love is stupid. Feeling deep feelings is stupid. All of you are stupid. Fall in love with someone clinical and safe, and you will always be moderately happy and safe. If your guy isn't perfect in every way, dump him!
Sofia (played by Justina Machado, Six Feet Under): That is GREAT advice! I'm going to dump my non-perfect boyfriend Patrick!
Patrick: Hey, what? That's crazy. I'm going to get my friend the super-computer-hacker to hack bunches of high-security websites and make it look like Emma is actually married to me! Then when she goes to get married to her stupid boyfriend, she won't be able to, and she'll have to confront me about it, and I'll give her a piece of my mind! And I won't get arrested, for some reason!
(Cut to Richard and Emma, the happily engaged couple.)
Richard: Oh, Emma, I love you so. Let's get our marriage license.
Emma: Very well. Marriage license guy, give us our marriage license.
Marriage License Guy: I can't, because you're already married to a guy named Patrick. Don't even bother protesting the point, because we never make mistakes and I'm not going to listen.
Emma: Agh! I'd better go get this Patrick guy to sign annulment papers. I'd better go to the bar he hangs out at and confront him.
(She goes to the bar)
Patrick: Hey, lady! Have a drink!
Emma: I'll have twenty!
(She has a bunch of drinks, gets drunk and passes out. Patrick carries her to his apartment, lays her in his bed, and tucks her in for the night. Emma wakes up the next morning.)
Emma: What did I do? Did I have sex with that guy? I don't know! Agh! I'd better call Richard.
(She calls Richard)
Richard: What were you doing last night?
Emma: Sleeping at a guy's house…but it's not what you think! I have to fix this, bye!
(She goes and finds Patrick again)
Emma: You're not my husband! Sign these papers!
Patrick: Hey, what's the hurry?
Emma: I have to go to a very fancy, very proper place to taste cakes!
Patrick: Hey, I'm going with you!
(They go to the cake place together.)
Patrick: These expensive cakes taste like Twinkies! Awesome!
Greta (a lady at the cake place, played by Isabella Rossellini): You two are a great couple!
Emma: Um…thanks! This is my fiance…uh, his name is Richard.
(The next day, Emma goes to a party celebrating the release of her new book.)
Emma: Boy, this is a great party!
Patrick: Sure is!
Emma: What are you doing here?
Patrick: Just felt like coming here.
Greta: Hey you two! I'm also here at the party because my husband is the guy who wants to liquidate Richard's company, but I'm sure he won't want to do that once he discovers that Richard is so awesome!
Emma (thinking to herself): Oh no! They think Patrick is Richard! I have to fix this!
Richard: What's going on?
Emma: So, like, I went to get everything fixed but the not-my-husband guy came with me to a cake place and a lady was there and she thought we were cute and I was flustered so I told her that Patrick was you but it turns out that she's the wife of the guy who wants to liquidate your company and I know you don't want that but she says that her husband will like Patrick (who is supposed to be you) and that after Patrick charms her husband he won't want to liquidate the company any more so please go along with this so everything will be okay!
Richard: Um…I don't understand…but fine, whatever.
Emma: Yay! I'm off to dinner with Greta and Patrick and other people!
(They go to dinner.)
Patrick: Folks, I have a better idea. Let's go to my place where there are about 200 Indian people having some sort of wild cultural celebration! It will be much more fun that this stuffy restaurant.
(Everybody goes to the party.)
Patrick: Kiss me, Emma.
Emma: I can't!
(She goes back home. The next day, Richard goes to see Patrick.)
Richard: Patrick, you're a nice guy and all, but please stop putting moves on Emma It's not very gentlemanly of you, and besides, I'm pretty sure you're the one who faked that marriage license, so you creep me out.
Patrick: Whatever, man.
(Patrick thinks about things for a while. Then he decides that he's better for Emma than Richard is.)
Patrick: Emma, I love you, babe. You're awesome. Be with me!
Emma: I was hoping you would say that! I love you, too! I'm leaving Richard.
Richard: Oh, bloody hell.
(They have sex. Later, Emma finds evidence of Patrick's marriage-license-tampering in Patrick's trash can.)
Emma: You jerk! How could you do such a thing? I'm leaving you!
Patrick: No, baby, wait! I love you!
Emma: I don't care!
(Days pass. Emma prepares for her wedding with Richard, who forgives her infidelities.)
Patrick: I still love you!
Emma: Still don't care!
(Days pass. It's Emma and Richard's wedding day.)
Richard: Dammit Emma, I know that despite the fact that I'm perfect and loving and haven't done anything wrong, you want to be with the firefighter who thinks a $1000 slice of cake is no different from a twinkie, so I'm going to continue being perfect and bow out of this wedding. I wish you the best. I love you, and I'm told that if you really love someone, you'll let them go and then…
Emma: Oh, thank you, Richard! Goodbye forever! But how do I get all of the wedding guests out of this building and get Patrick here at the same time? I know! I'll set off the sprinklers, which will get all of the guests wet and force the fire department to waste resources by coming out here! And I'll make a call to the fire department and have them send out Patrick's firetruck, even though I'm not even anywhere near his district! And they'll have absolutely no problem with that request!
Patrick: Hey babe, I'm here! Where the fire? Oh, wait…the fire's in my pants! Get on my fire truck, woman!
Emma (on the radio): Ladies, just love! Love, love, love! If you're in love with somebody, do what feels good and don't think about the consequences! Throw sense out the window, because it's boring! I'm clearly incapable of finding any reasonable middle ground between sense and passion!
The DVD transfer is just fine, spotlighting the generally colorful film with clarity and depth. Detail is solid and the image is perky and vibrant. However, the 3 or 4 darker scenes in the film don't fare so well, becoming a bit too murky and incoherent. Audio is fine, though the dialogue becomes oh-so-slightly distorted during some of the dialogue scenes that take place outdoors. I will note that I absolutely despised the twinkling and prancing Andrea Guerra score, which tries very hard to make the actions of these obnoxious characters seem cute and precocious. The only supplement on the disc is a standard-issue making-of featurette.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Colin Firth is a tremendously reliable actor, and he manages to wring a few bits of dry comedy out of this overwrought mess. Even so, a few chuckles is hardly enough to compensate for the overwhelming amount of stupidity on display.
It's not hard at all to see why this film went straight-to-DVD. I generally find the three leads to be quite appealing, but the awful script drags everything down with it.
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