Run for Your Wife
Hopelessly dated and poorly executed comedy starring Danny Dyer
This comprehensively cack-handed adaptation of the long-running West End stage sex comedy will have all but the most thick of skin and dim of humour running from the cinema as though their very lives depended up on it. Co-director and screenwriter Ray Cooney’s big screen version of his own 1980s play is so poorly executed and the material so hopelessly dated that it traduces its (sort of) honourable origins as a theatrical farce to become nothing less than utterly farcical.
Although there probably never was much mileage in adapting a popular but fundamentally ropey stage romp for the screen, there are elements of the film that suggest it could have had something going for it. It’s nice to see Danny Dyer, the perennially gobby lad, having a go at lightweight comedy. Stereotyped though he may be, and possibly with a performance range that doesn’t extend beyond the M25, there’s nevertheless something oddly likeable about the east London boy who has, on occasion, proved he has got acting chops. Despite Dyer being game enough as cabbie John Smith, a bigamist whose careful and crafty management of two marriages swiftly unravels after he saves a bag lady from being mugged and as a have-a-go-hero becomes the unwanted focus of media and police attention, his first try at playing a comic lead is a pratfall.
The same can’t be said of Dyer’s leading ladies. Playing the cuckolded wives, Denise van Outen and Sarah Harding’s shrill yet lifeless turns betray their non-professional acting backgrounds. More diverting are the host of cameo appearances by famous old faces, among them Judi Dench, Cliff Richard, Sylvia Syms, Bernard Cribbins and, erm, Robin Askwith. The latter’s fleeting exposure, as it were, highlights Run for Your Wife’s resemblance not to the Carry on… films, but to the less amusing, more sexed up Confessions of… series, and it’s not even in the same minor comic league as those naughty romps.
Selected release from Thu 14 Feb.