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Run for Your Wife - 'As funny as leprosy'

Ray Cooney's film about a bigamist taxi driver gets a vicious mauling from the critics

The critics have had their claws out for Ray Cooney’s film adaptation of his successful stage farce Run For Your Wife.

Our critic branded it a “catastrophe” another called it "as funny as leprosy" and somebody else suggested the audience might feel like sticking their heads in an oven after watching. All agree that it raises not one single, solitary laugh.

Danny Dyer takes the lead role as a bigamous taxi driver trying to keep his wives, played by Denise Van Outen and Sarah Harding, away from each other. But Judi Dench? As Anthony Quinn puts it “What had she to gain from putting herself about as a bag lady?”

Here’s a round-up of some of their choicest opinions:

Anthony Quinn, The Independent: “It will be lucky to run for nine days. Perhaps never in the field of light entertainment have so many actors sacrificed so much dignity in the cause of so few jokes… From the look of it, Cooney hasn't been in a cinema for about 30 years. Actually, he doesn't seem to have been outside in 30 years. Hysterical, and not in a good way.”

Adam Lee Davies, Little White Lies: “Danny Dyer – o yea, for it is he – stars as John Smith, a cheery London cabbie full of barrow boy charm and with a smile in his eye for any honest Englishman… John’s top geezer-ness, however gets him into bother when he is inadvertently smacked round the head with a giant tin of dog food whilst attempting to stop two hoodie no-marks mugging a bag lady – played, for some reason, by Dame Judi Dench in a shit-flecked fright wig.”

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian: “The humour makes The Dick Emery Show look edgy and contemporary, and the movie features a mind-boggling parade of cameos you are only otherwise liable to see in the cutaway shots of an ITV3 repeat of An Audience with Magnus Pyke. Frank Thornton! Bill Pertwee! Russ Abbot! 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.”

David Edwards, Daily Record: “It'd more a case of running for the hills as Danny Dyer teams up with Denise van Outen and Sarah Harding for an exasperating farce containing not one single, solitary laugh Comprised of people losing their trousers and falling over, the film looks like a pilot for a(mercifully) never-commissioned 70s sit-com.…The gimmick is it’s packed with blink-and-you’ll-miss-them cameos, with spots from Cliff Richard, Rolf Harris and Richard Briers. As funny as leprosy.

Simon Reynolds, Digital Spy: “Run For Your Wife is about as visually ambitious as a cheap ITV sitcom. There's an odd, unfinished feel to it, as if they filmed the rehearsal and not the actual movie. In the end, it's hard to fault Dyer and co, who at least are fully committed to making themselves look like complete idiots in the name of comedy. If only they were working with material that was actually funny. In an interview with Digital Spy back in 2011, Dyer offered up a blunt and honest assessment of his career as a movie star: "I've made over 40 films. I'd say a quarter of them are s**t, another quarter are all right and I'd say half of them have got something to say." No prizes for guessing which category Run For Your Wife falls into.”

The Metro: “When you spy Cliff Richard and Rolf Harris cameoing as buskers during the opening credits you know you’re in for a humdinger… Neil Morrissey sits on a chocolate cake, Richard Briers falls into a hedge, Christopher Biggins pushes Lionel Blair bum-first through a bathroom floor – no one emerges unscathed among the cameo-packed cast that reads largely like a roll-call for Brit TV legends you’d previously suspected deceased.