“Accidental Husband” is a 2008 romantic comedy directed by Griffin Dunne and used as a star vehicle for Uma Thurman, but it also enjoys the presence of Colin Firth and Isabella Rosellini in supporting roles. It was released to theaters in the UK but went direct to DVD in the US because its distributor went bankrupt, according to an Internet source. I saw it last night because it had been on French satellite TV. It is a terrible movie. Nearly everyone agrees about that. But the reason it is terrible, and the reason its script is unbelievable, is that the basic premise is that true love can develop quickly between an upper-middle-class author and radio personality (Thurman), whose career is to dispense advice about love and finding Mr. Right to women, and a working-class stiff in Queens, a firefighter. It is true that this firefighter has the cosmopolitan trait of being on good terms with an Asian family of vaguely Indian extraction, because he lives in an apartment above their restaurant and because, presumably, he’s an open-minded guy. The fiancée, who breaks off an engagement or courtship with our firefighter, appears to have been Hispanic. So the firefighter lives in the cosmopolitan melting pot of Queens and is not a racist. But does this make it at all likely that the well-off and successful career-girl Manhattanite heroine, who also happens to be a striking beauty, heretofore highly practical in her approach to love, will get wet only for the firefighter?
The only interest to me in this movie is that its plot hinges entirely on a dubious premise about love between people of different social class in America. No reviewer or viewer of the movie whom I read this morning on the Internet comments directly on this, but this is the only point of the movie. This raises the question of whether there is a taboo about discussing social class in America in public. It is the mixing of social classes which drives the plot and makes the movie’s ending entirely predictable. The only other plot feature of interest is that it’s apparently OK, or even desirable, for an erstwhile upper-middle-class bride in white, including veil, to have premarital sex with the fireman she loves.
The premise of the movie is consistent with serious sociological studies that I have heard about on the Internet. There are not enough high-earning, well-educated men to go around for the number of highly educated, high- earning women in the US, apparently. So high-earning women are learning to make do with less well-educated men as husbands, or so I have heard. My wife and I have not actually run into these couples. In our own case, my wife made more money than I did in our professional lives, but she is not the better educated one. We both found the premise of this movie completely unbelievable. I nevertheless wonder if this misbegotten movie script was conceived in the way that Malcom Gladwell conceives of his very successful writings, if it was ripped straight from the headlines of some work in academic sociology. In any case, this sociological premise might be interesting to watch if it were presented at all believably, and if the viewer were presented with some of the moments of tension which are likely to arise in the social and extended family lives of married couples in which levels of education and taste differ markedly.