DVD Review: ‘Run for Your Wife’

The inimitable Danny Dyer returned to UK cinema screens earlier this year in Ray Cooney and John Luton’s infamous Run for Your Wife (2012), occupying the type of role that few would have associated him with – but will be now be praying he never returns to. Far similar in style and tone to an extended CBeebies offering than the type of 1970s British sex comedy that it purports to ape (the Confessions… cycle’s Robin Askwith even makes an ill-advised cameo – the first of many), Cooney and Luton’s fatuous farce flops from one unbearable skit to the next, before letting its reprehensible bigamist off the hook, scot-free.

Dyer plays London cabbie John Smith, who inexplicably finds himself married to not one, but two attractive women – one in Stockwell (Denise Van Outen’s Michelle), the other in Finsbury (Sarah Harding’s Stephanie). After intervening to halt a late night mugging – and receiving a nasty blow to the head courtesy of Judi Dench’s homeless victim – Smith awakes a local hero, with the London Echo keen to relay the details of his selfless act to their readership. Unfortunately, after providing conflicting address details to both hospital staff and Finsbury/Stockwell police, Smith’s web of lies begins to unravel before his bleary eyes.

Cue 75-odd proceeding minutes of sight gags, cloying innuendo, nonsensical cameos and Neil Morrissey as Run for Your Wife swiftly loses grasp of its slither of a plot. More akin to a feature-length episode of the Beeb’s ChuckleVision than a contemporary riff on the Confessions… franchise, Cooney and Luton have seemingly spent more time dragging every British telly actor from the past 50 years out of retirement for one last hurrah, than sculpting a screenplay. What’s more, when this last ‘hurrah’ involves sharing screen-time with a wildly miscast Dyer in perhaps the year’s worst film so far, it’s obviously high time Christopher Biggins, Lionel Blair and company had a serious one-to-one discussion with their respective agents.

Far more alarming than Run for Your Wife’s complete absence of quality, however, is its continual reliance on near-homophobic humour to carry its almost non-existent collection of laughs. At one point in the film, Dyer’s Smith falsely admits to entering into a relationship with best friend Gary (Morrissey) to cover his tracks, at which point we’re presumably expected to hold our aching sides as the pair huddle uncomfortably in front of an enquiring police inspector. In addition, Biggins and Blair’s crowbarred ‘gay couple upstairs’ conform almost entirely to haggard stereotype, leading one to wonder why a film so apparently enthralled with the machinations of modern relationships can appear so prehistoric in its approach to same-sex partnerships.

A rewardless slog from start to finish, with some of the worst dialogue audible from an ensemble cast since – well, Movie 43Cooney and Luton’s Run for Your Wife even fails to register as a tongue-in-cheek, ‘so-bad-that-it’s-good’ guilty pleasure. Replacing the term ‘dire’ with ‘Dyer’ as a dismissive adjective to describe the film would, to give you some idea, be considered scabrous, Wildean wit in comparison to most of the bottom-rung humour offered up by this irredeemable British affair.

Daniel Green