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An Ideal Husband

Starring: Rupert Everett
Director: Oliver Parker
Genre: Comedy
Year: 1999
Rating: 3 / 5

Raised on Hollywood spoofs like Young Frankenstein, Airplane!, and The Naked Gun, I must admit that I do not fully appreciate "civilized comedies." I use that term because that is how one film reviewer described Oliver Parker's An Ideal Husband. Civilized comedy. I must say that I agree wholeheartedly with this characterization of the film, for its laughs are not so overt and are cleverly delivered through fancy wordplay and subtle undertones. With that in mind, this film may not be ideal for fans of director Mel Brooks or Jim Carrey. It is, however, a cute, touching tale with enough humor to keep the viewer's interest without allowing him to truly fall in love with the movie.

Sir Robert Chiltern (Jeremy Northam) has a dirty little secret, one about which his prim and proper wife Gertrude (Cate Blanchett) does not even know. This secret is the reason for Sir Robert's rise in 1895 British government, and its revelation could spell doom for both his political aspirations and his picture-perfect marriage. Mrs. Laura Cheveley (Julianne Moore) is threatening to reveal this very secret, unless, of course, Sir Robert cooperates with her demands. She merely asks that he use his position of power to publicly back a shady business undertaking, one which is not in England's best interests but one which will earn Mrs. Chevelely a pretty penny. Oblige her, and Mrs. Cheveley will return an incriminating letter to him. Refuse, and his career in London will be over.

Caught in a quandary such as, Sir Robert knows of only one man to whom he can turn - Lord Arthur Goring (Rupert Everett). Sir Robert's best friend, Lord Goring is a 36-year-old bachelor who runs at the thought of marriage or holding a serious conversation. Nonetheless, a man such as he, who also has a hidden past with the aforementioned Mrs. Cheveley, just might be able to find a way out of this twisted mess. All that is being asked of Lord Goring is for him to take his life seriously for a change, see through Mrs. Cheveley's web of deceit, save Sir Robert's marriage, and preserve a promising political career. All in a day's work for a man whose greatest challenge each day is determining which woman to bed that night.

The best word to describe An Ideal Husband is "enjoyable," as anything else would either unjustly praise it or fail to do it justice. The film is loaded with trademark under-the-surface British humor, stuffed with all the pretensions of high society. Exchanges such as these are the calling card of Mrs. Cheveley, making actress Julianne Moore's scenes irksome and tiring. Rupert Everett is the film's true star, and it is wonderful to see him receive this opportunity after some knockout supporting roles. He manages to imbue his spoiled playboy character with charm and warmth, giving the audience a true rooting interest in his welfare. Minnie Driver is, quite, simply, adorable, even if her character is barely developed. Watch this film for some laughs and an overriding sense of enjoyment, for, taken in that context, An Ideal Husband is truly a worthwhile voyage.

Rupert Everett..........Arthur Goring
Cate Blanchett..........Gertrude Chiltern
Jeremy Northam..........Robert Chiltern
Julianne Moore..........Laura Cheveley
Minnie Driver..........Mabel Chiltern

Certification: Rated PG-13 for brief nudity.
Running Time: 97 minutes.

Additional Info: Internet Movie Database
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