An unnecessary do-over
5 July 2010
"My Favorite Wife," uses the formula, the stars and the director of the hugely successful "The Awful Truth," and tries to do it all over again. Unfortunately, this time, it falls flat, feeling like exactly what it is, a rehash of a much, much better film. Instead of trying to do something different, we get the same story, slightly changed but with the same gags and plot devices. In both, there is a married couple dealing with a separation. In both, the wife tries to hoodwink a female paramour by adopting a weird accent. In both, the wife tries to convince the husband that nothing happened with a male admirer. In "The Awful Truth," the first half of the film was concerned with the husband's jealousy over another man; the second half with the wife trying to get rid of the inconvenient other woman. In "My Favorite Wife," this plot structure is simply reversed, the other woman comes in the first half, the husband's jealousy in the second. This is about as original as "My Favorite Wife" gets. Children are also added this time around, unnecessarily, serving to make everything feel more domestic and boring. The film ends appropriately, in a sad attempt to recapture the magic at the end of "The Awful Truth." It stages the scene in practically the same way. While "The Awful Truth" ended with a dignified Grant and Dunne finally getting together, "My Favorite Wife" ends with Grant in a Santa Claus suit, a fitting contrast between the two films.

Randolph Scott is wasted here, his role amounting to more of a cameo, less a full-fledged character. The reason he's in the movie at all is probably to make light of the rumors concerning his real-life relationship with Cary Grant (they lived together for a number of years). The film has Grant almost swoon at the sight of a shirtless Scott taking a dive, and later it has Grant sitting in his office, reliving the moment in his mind. And then there's the scene of Grant looking through women's clothing, holding them up to a mirror, while telling a doctor, "I have to go, he's waiting for me in the car!" Fun at the expense of Cary Grant's sexuality is probably the most interesting thing about the picture.

Overall, this movie is lifeless, a bankrupt attempt to recreate the success of "The Awful Truth." It repeats too many elements, and not very successfully. Watch "The Awful Truth" instead.
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