Run For Your Wife (2012) *


This long-gestating film version of Ray Cooney's phenomenally successful stage farce opened to excoriating reviews, many hailing it as the worst film of the year or even the worst British film of all time, and a much-quoted first weekend take of around £750.
Hard to imagine just how utterly bewildered Cooney must have been left by such savagery, when the target was as jolly, harmless and pleasant a piece of work as this. What a bunch of pretentious, humourless bores.

I had been tipped off before the screening I attended (its only showing in Bath) that where audiences were actually getting a chance to see it they were enjoying it enormously, and sure enough, my crowd had a thoroughly good time: lots of loud, unforced laughter throughout, and a decisive summing up of “well that was brilliant!” from an elderly lady at the end. The situations might be just a little too ludicrous for that suspension of disbelief necessary for truly great farce, but the construction is clever, the pace unflagging, the direction efficient, and most of it is extremely funny.

Nice performances all round, especially from Neil Morrissey (who gets the lion's share of the laughs), Christopher Biggins (who gets most of what's left over) and Nicholas Le Prevost (who gives a performance of effortless comic charm, of a sort I thought I'd never see again outside of re-runs.) Casting Danny Dyer in the lead was a mistake – he looks far too loutish for a role that needs as much audience sympathy as it can possibly get – but even he has a defter comic touch than I predicted (a measure, perhaps, of Cooney's proven expertise in extracting fine comic performances from his casts).