Run for Your Wife
dir Ray Cooney, John Luton
scr Ray Cooney
prd Graham Fowler, James Simpson
with Danny Dyer, Denise Van Outen, Sarah Harding, Neil Morrissey, Ben Cartwright, Nicholas Le Prevost, Kellie Shirley, Christopher Biggins, Lionel Blair, Judi Dench, Rolf Harris, Cliff Richard
release UK 14.Feb.13
12/UK 1h34
Run for Your Wife
One of the happy couples: Dyer and Harding

vanouten morrissey dench
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Run for Your Wife So broad that it almost hurts to watch it, this British farce has been adapted from stage to screen without any concessions for cinema audiences. Sets are too bright, dialog is corny and the acting is so over-the-top that it seems like a pastiche of a comedy sketch.

John Smith (Dyer) is a cheeky London cabbie who's injured while rescuing a bag lady (Dench) from two thugs. He's taken to hospital unconscious, and when his wife Michelle (Van Outen) notices him missing, she calls the local South London police station, which sends a detective (Cartwright) to investigate. The hitch is that in North London, John has another wife, Stephanie (Harding), who also contacts the police (Le Prevost). When Danny realises that his double-life is about to go up in flames, he enlists a hapless neighbour (Morrissey) for help.

The plot actually has some slapstick possibility, as people intersect in random ways that only deepen the various entanglements between potentially endearing characters. But it's cranked up so loud that nothing works. Dyer is pushed to a smirking performance that makes John deeply unlikeable, and both Van Outen and Harding are such over-reacters that we wouldn't want to spend five minutes with either of them. Meanwhile, Morrissey goons shamelessly in a thankless role (he's the first person to lose his trousers). But others have it even worse.

Fortunately, the movie is relatively short and everything happens at a frenetic pace. It also has an oddly retro tone, as everyone calls each other Mr or Mrs and is extremely disapproving of any hint of sex or sexuality. If only the whole thing wasn't so sloppy, with running gags that simply vanish into thin air, madcap set-pieces that defy even the feeble logic of the genre and characters who change personality from scene to scene.

In the end, the film is such a shambles that you have little choice but to just go with it. And you might even chuckle a few times at the indignities that are heaped on every person on-screen. On the other hand, whenever Cooney and his cast strain to make us laugh, it takes all our will-power not to get up and leave the cinema.

cert 12 themes, language, violence, innuendo 6.Feb.13

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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall