There were a number of scathing reviews published in the papers last week — a number of them for cynical Hollywood films the likes of the latest Die Hard sequel and a movie that looks an awful lot like a Twilight rip-offs. But the poison pen of British film journalists were really put to work with Run for Your Wife, an independent comedy starring critical martyr Danny Dyer.
Once, known for appearing in genuinely good Brit flicks (Human Traffic, Borstal Boy) has crafted his career into a parody of other hard-geezer actors. His films with Nick Love, while really silly, formed some of the highlights of his career — or so we’re led to believe by the unintentionally hilarious DVD commentary for Outlaw (very NSFW).
But as badly as his gangster films were reviewed, none of them can hold a candle to the critical panning received by Run for Your Wife, a throw-back comedy that sees a bigamist cabbie (Dyer) who tries to make sure his two wives never find out about each other. Based on a popular stage play from the early 80s, it has the kind of story that doesn’t really fly anymore on account of how dimly it perceives women.
With the help of his mate Neil Morrissey, Dyer carries on with his shenanigans that involves deceiving wives Denise van Outen and Sarah Harding, two women that his character claims to love. You can tell that the was devised three decades ago, as it labours under a premise that a black cab driver can afford the rent on two separate properties within London’s Zone 2.
Neil Morrisey sits on a cake!
Danny Dyer steps on a rake!
Four people chase each other around a table!
Someone tries to escape from a building using bedsheets tied together! You know, just like in real life!
The only remarkable thing about this film seems to be the number of cameos from aged British celebs: Rolf Harris, Russ Abbot, Ray Winstone, Cliff Richard and even Dame Judi Dench! The late Richard Briers also has a credit, though it may not be the way he would have wanted to finish his career.
Here is just a sampling of the film’s critical notices:
The Guardian: “Connoisseurs of the British thespian scene from 30 years ago are likely, however, to have precisely the same response as those who do not recognise any of these people: an overwhelming desire to buy an old-fashioned town-gas cooking appliance in which one’s head will fit snugly.”
Time Out: “The result is not so much a film, more a nerve-shredding flashback to the darkest days of pre-PC British comedy, a time when chappies were cheeky, gays were terrifying and women divided their time between nagging and shrieking. Run for the exit.”
Total Film: “it’s one long, laughter-averse ordeal studded with D-listers short of panto work.”
Even the culture-destroying Daily Mail slammed it, though presumably that is less to do with the quality of film as much as their sub-editors’ inability tie a ‘Dyer’ pun into anything positive.
And indeed, a little investigation reveals what must an interesting story behind the scenes.
The film was co-directed by Ray Cooney, who adapted his own play for the screen. However, he is an 80 year old man whose only feature credits as a director were a pair of saucy Carry On type comedies from the 70s.
I suspect that modern audiences will be entirely unfamiliar with his writings at least is for the script to What a Carve Up!, another sex-com that provided a significant reference point in Jonathan Coe’s great novel of the same name.
Cooney is however, a veteran of the British stage which would explain how he got so many big names to put in cameos for for free. But his advanced age might also explain why he chose Danny Dyer to play a role originated on stage by Bernard Cribbins, the lovable voice behind the Wombles. Anybody who’s seen a film in the past 10 years knows that Dyer’s acting range only stretches to playing total c***s.
Listed as an Executive Producer is Vicki Michelle, the actress best known as Rene’s sexy waitress in ‘Allo ‘Allo — a great show that shares this film’s appreciation for hilarious misunderstandings and humorously concealed sausages. We can only hope that Michelle didn’t sink all her ‘Allo ‘Allo residuals into this lousy investment. That would be just the saddest thing ever.
UPDATE: The Guardian has reported that Run for Your Wife grossed £602 at UK box-offices this weekend which means -at an average of £6 a ticket- only about a hundred people ponied up the cash to see Danny Dyer cheekily ruining the lives of two unsuspecting women.
Run for Your Wife is STILL in limited release around the UK, somehow.