The trailer for Run For Your Wife.
Yesterday morning, I set out to a far-flung corner of North-West London to catch the 11AM (yep) screening of Danny Dyer's new film, Run For Your Wife. I actually didn't know cinemas opened that early, but apparently they do, and tickets at that time only cost £4. They also threw in free coffee and custard creams as part of the package, which was kind of jarring because I always imagined Danny Dyer's fans watching his films with a nose full of last night's pub gak and a can of Stella.
Anyway, if you can't be bothered to watch the trailer above, Run For Your Wife is a comedy about Danny Dyer having two wives. His wives are played by TV presenter Denise van Outen and pop-singer Sarah Harding. Bolstering this powerhouse cast further is Men Behaving Badly star Neil Morrissey – these days, less of a cheeky chappy and more of an old man confused at his infantalising dementia, grey hair and growing paunch.
I was here because, at the last count, the film had taken a staggering £747 at the UK box office. Granted, it was only playing in about four cinemas in the London suburbs, but given the average price of a cinema ticket these days, you realise that's really quite remarkably shit. IMDb claims that the film had a budget of around £2.5 million, which means that – at this rate – it would have to show for another 3,347 weeks to break even. Which is about another 65 years. Judging by the look of the rest of audience, they don't really have that kind of time to spare.
Denise van Outen trying to hit Danny Dyer in the nuts in Run For Your Wife.
If the free biscuits and hot stimulants were a ploy to lure in the OAP crowd, it worked. One of them even stood up to make an announcement: His amateur comedy group had just recruited a new member, a woman who'd been at the BBC since the 40s and "once played table tennis with Tommy Handley". He admitted the younger members of the audience might not know who Tommy Handley was, but it would be good to see them there anyway.
Then there were a few intellectual looking, three-quarter-length-coated young men in the audience, armed with notebooks, pre-Raphaelite hairdos and Costa cups, who I assumed – like me – must have been journalists there for the carve up. It's not a great feeling going to something that you know you're probably going to slag off, especially when you see other people looking to do the same. For that moment, we were culture vultures in the truest sense, hovering around this deserted cinema, all ready to pick the flesh off Danny Dyer's rotting, unwanted carcass of a film. The phrase "cinematic turkey" is often used to describe a movie that's big, dumb and tasteless. But Run For Your Wife seemed beyond a "cinematic turkey" – it was shaping up to be cinematic roadkill.
Alas, I can neither confirm nor deny this, because it seems that the distributors don't want me or anyone else to see it.
Danny Dyer eating some paper in Run For Your Wife.
After about 20 minutes of waiting in this cinema, it was clear that something was wrong. The crowd began to squirm agitatedly in their seats. The old people, emboldened by their coffee, were tutting and clicking like crickets in the background of a Danny Dyer film set in the Med. Somebody even said, "Oh, for goodness' sake," at some point, so you could tell the mood was starting to turn. Myself and the budding Eberts and Siskels started glaring at the projector with indignation, as if to say, "I had a great comparison between Dyer and James Cagney to use and you idiots are ruining it."
Eventually, a charming but nervous American man came out to address the distraught audience. He explained that, in this day and age, the cinema requires a digital password to show the film and, for some reason, the distributors were refusing to give it to the cinema. The movie couldn't be shown. A well turned-out old lady at the back bellowed out, "Wasn't it all so much simpler in the old days!" The American man smiled, and tried to explain, but it seemed like he was trying to make it sound more technical than it really was. It quickly became clear to me that the distributors were now basically refusing to let the film be seen. They were pulling the plug.
The new Judd Apatow film This Is 40 was presented to us as compensation, and the audience grumpily settled to watch it, though they were clearly suspicious about this new "American" comedy. I half-considered sticking around to see a room full of miserable Gracie Field fans sitting through an hour and a half of fat college comedians making jokes about bongs and crymaxing, but I had better things to be doing, really.
The flat-out refusal to let the film be screened suggested to me that the distributors – the little-known "Ballpark Film Distributors" – were now on damage limitation mode. In the day and age in which every bastard has a blog to broadcast their opinions, it had become clear to them that Run For Your Wife was a film that needed to reach as small an audience as possible. It was a film that needed to be quarantined before its sheer shittiness infected public opinion and turned the masses against Dyer forever.
Danny Dyer and Neil Morrissey looking nervous in Run For Your Wife.
I felt sorry for everyone associated with this sorry affair. It must be difficult to work for months or even years to create something for other people to enjoy, only for them to hate it so much that they force you to put a gun to its head and kill it in front of them. I felt sorry for Denise van Outen and Sarah Harding, who are essentially the same woman born a generation apart and who must have felt they were staring into time's own vortex every time they looked at each other. I also felt sorry for my fellow cinema-goers, who – critics from The Metro aside – seemed a far more decent crowd than the ones I usually see in cinema foyers, people who are only there because they're sick of taking their hateful fuck buddies to Nando's. I even felt a little sorry for myself. I wanted to see the "recurring transsexual gags" and "slapstick farce" that other reviewers had spoken of. I guess I'll just have to wait for the DVD.
But most of all I felt sorry for Dyer. Yes, it's easy to laugh at the way he always looks like he's suffering a brutal chang-over in his documentaries, his hyper-aggressive Twitter game, the fact that he seems to DJ more than MJ Cole these days, his short-lived portrayal of Sid Vicious in the West End and everything else that makes him an inherently ludicrous human being.
But have you ever considered that he might be the last true renaissance man, an agent provocateur for the proletariat who takes great pleasure in winding up the media classes? An East End Jack the lad who's in this game for the purest of reasons: pleasing his fans, making a tidy wedge, hanging out with Dave Courtney and pissing off people who watch The Culture Show. He's no Daniel Day Lewis, but he's a long way from some RADA brat putting on their best "cock-er-nee" accent for the new Guy Ritchie movie.
For that, his really quite amazing performance in Human Traffic, his fine work in the field of drum 'n' bass video cameos, his percussive mastery of the word "cunt" and the (possibly related) fact that Harold Pinter was a massive fan of his, Dyer doesn't deserve to have his legacy defined by Run For Your Wife.
Because, although I didn't get to see it, let's be honest, it looks really, really bad. I mean, Neil Morrissey's in it, for fuck's sake.
(NB: I've been trying to get in touch with Ballpark for a comment, but for whatever reason they aren't picking up the phone.)
Follow Clive on Twitter: @thugclive
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