Run For Your Wife was once a fairly successful stage play; it ran for 9 years in the mid to late eighties and had Richard Briers and Bernard Cribbins playing the lead roles. It’s fair to say that this isn’t a bad reason to make a film adaption, and to give its original Writer the job of turning it into the movie probably seemed like a bright idea too.
The problem with Run With Your Wife lies entirely in the casting of a chap called Danny Dyer. To say his acting skills reflect his surame is to praise him highly because this film is a pure masterclass in putting your heart and soul into a film and still ending up with a complete stinker of a performance. I would love to blame Jeremy Zimmerman (the Casting Director) whose sole responisibility was to find a likeable lead (which, I suppose, he did) who could deliver a punchline to a cheesy joke ; A job he catastrophically failed at (A punchline? Dyer probably thinks that’s something to do with his role as a hooligan in The Football Factory). But poor old Jeremy can’t be held to blame, he was also responsible for casting the fantastic Sam Rockwell in Moon, I’ll let him off this once.
No, this debacle is firmly in the hands of our leading man. You know when bad films are really funny because they’re a bit naff?
This goes WAY beyond that, it’s at a stage where you feel horrified and embarassed for all the people involved; poor old Judi Dench, Andrew Sachs, Cliff Richard and the other numerous cameos by British personalities who perhaps thought they were doing a friend a favour by appearing in the film. Little did they know they’d be responsible for something so eye wateringly uncomfortable that even at a “S*** Movie Night” (something my friends and I do) people were desperate to do anything other than put up with one more second of this drivel.
The film is ostensibly about John Smith (Dyer), a taxi driver with two wives, who whilst saving a bag lady[?!] (Judi Dench) from muggers in one of the most unrealistic fight scenes ever put on film sustains a bump on the head which sets him on a farcical one million hours (it felt that long…) long journey in which he attempts to hide one wife from the other.
The problem with it is that it isn’t even funny in a “this is really awful” or a “this is so weird” kind of way; the awkward laughter generated is purely because the alcoholic accompanyment – which is almost essential – causes a slight lapse in judgement.
If you are to attempt to sit through Run For Your Wife you need to have a VERY strong stomach, an extraordinary attention span, an ability to muffle out the incessant screeching of Dyer’s on screen wives, a bottle of hard liquor and a few friends for assistance/shoulders to cry on/people to perform CPR on you in the (extremely likely) case of “death by Dyer”.
The fact that this film made only £602 in its opening weekend in UK Cinemas is about as shocking as it comes because this horribly outdated, old fashioned, unfunny and woefully miscast film deserved far FAR less.
Run For Your Wife is Available on DVD and For Streaming on Various Online outlets. We recommend that you don’t watch it though.