Wilt Review

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The only thing Henry Wilt (Jones) dreams about more than getting out of his third-rate lecturing job is murdering his patronising wife (Steadman). When Wilt is seen disposing of a blow-up doll, he becomes chief suspect as, coincedentally, his wife goes missing.


Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones have taken a little time off from their manifold advertising, television and business commitments to have another crack at a feature film. Their last outing together, Morons From Outer Space (which they also wrote), died a painful and ignominious death in the face of lukewarm reviews and an even cooler box-office reception.

This time, clearly a touch chastened, they’ve opted for the work of Tom Sharpe, one of Britain’s most popular comic writers, which for good measure is produced by Brian Eastman, who adapted both Blott On The Landscape and Porterhouse Blue for TV. Griff plays Henry Wilt, a third-rate lecturer in a fourth-rate technical college who dreams of murdering his wife Eva (Alison Steadman), an appalling food/exercise/yoga bore who says things like “I’m sure you’re irritable because your colon’s clenched”. One evening she carts him off to the swank party of her old schoolfriend (Diana Quick) where he literally becomes entangled with a life-like blow-up doll. He eventually dumps the doll down a foundation hole on a building site, but meanwhile his wife’s gone missing, the Swaffham Strangler’s on the loose and Inspector Flint (Smith) is getting suspicious. . .

It’s all jolly good and very British fun, with the boys doing their bit effortlessly: surely no one can play a dim-witted copper quite as brilliantly as Mel Smith. However, Sharpe’s skill is that he creates heroes who seem to be complete wasters and idiots but who you instinctively understand and sympathise with — you can imagine getting into exactly the same scrapes, which makes you feel mighty uncomfortable. Confined within a 92 minute feature, the beauty of Henry Wilt and his hapless life simply can’t blossom, so you’re left wondering why on earth this guy does such stupid things when he’s clearly not a stupid man.

The giggles are there in abundance in Wilt The Film (like Inspector Flint in the sex shop asking if people really buy tartan dildos, only to be told that he’s looking at the owner’s thermos flask), but the place for helpless belly laughs still lies within the pages of Wilt The Book.

It's a juvenile pleasure to see two comedians back in the skins that fit them best.