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.
"A FUTILE EFFORT"
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.
The Accidental Husband is out in the UK on 29th February 2008.