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Run For Your Wife


Stars: Danny Dyer, Denise Van Outen, Sarah Harding, Neil Morrissey, Ben Cartwright, Nicholas Le Prevost, Kellie Shirley, Christopher Biggins, Lionel Blair, Jeffrey Holland, Louise Michelle, Judi Dench, Richard Briers, Barry Cryer, Ian Cullen, Rolf Harris, Cliff Richard, Louise Jameson, Christopher Sweeney, Nick Wilton, Yvonne Quenet

Director: Ray Cooney, John Luton

There are some surprises, none of them particularly interesting and certainly not worth sitting through this embarrassing farce in order to discover them.

For me the most surprising aspect of the movie was that it was scripted and co-directed (with John Luton) by Ray Cooney, celebrated as the writer of celebrated stage farces: Run for Your Wife which marked up over 500 stage productions all over the world. What surprised me the most was the fact that Cooney managed to make a movie that is so unfunny for almost all of its running time. The reason for this seems obvious. The play has been fatally opened up: on stage, farcical comings and going confined to one or two sets usually helps to build up cumulative comic suspense and matching comic chaos. Here, with the action taking place all over the place, tension is missing and so, for most of the time, are any real or lasting laughs although the cast work hard – far harder than the material deserves – to raise them.

Danny Dyer is his usual cheerful chancer self as the cab driver who is also a successful bigamist, married to Denise Van Outen (in an unimpressive movie debut) and Sarah Harding, one in Stockwell, the other in Finchley. But his two worlds collide when, after being hit by a bag-lady’s handbag, he ends up in casualty and in one police station, while his disappearance is reported to another, triggering off his desperate attempts to keep his two wives happy and unknowing of each other, helped and hindered by his best mate Neil Morrissey…

On film, the farcical goings on rapidly run out of steam, despite increasingly desperate efforts by all concerned – especially Dyer and Morrissey who administer desperate dramatic/comic CPR to the corpse without managing to get it breathing again.

Where the film might possibly score is in future film quizzes since it answers a truly ridiculous questions such as “In what film do Cliff Richard and Rolf Harris appear together?” – here, fortunately only very briefly glimpsed, they appear as buskers, with comedy writer Barry Cryer: serendipitously, neither sings. Also, and perhaps even more bizarrely, Judi Dench turns up as a bag lady.

Scads of other once-familiar faces are briefly glimpsed while, truly embarrassingly, Christopher Biggins makes the average pantomime dame seem under an anaesthetic as he screams and pouts his way well over the top and beyond as fellow gay character Lionel Blair’s near hysterical partner.

In the final analysis, it’s the kind of film you recommend to your worse enemy.

PS The rating is for effort rather than accomplishment

Alan Frank

UK 2012. UK Distributor: Ballpark Productions. Colour.
93 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 10 Feb 2013