Nuns on the Run Review

The Film

Nuns on the Run was written and directed by Jonathan Lynn (also known as the writer of Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister, and director of My Cousin Vinny among others) and attempts to recapture the feeling of an Ealing comedy, and although there are some funny moments, overall it seems a little past its prime, relying on too many set pieces to really appeal to a more modern audience. It's also the last film that came from Handmade Films in its original form.

Brian (Eric Idle) and Charlie (Robbie Coltrane) work for a London gangster. They're old-style gentlemen criminals, but their boss is young, modern, and just a little bit psychotic. They would leave, but they're worried about the consequences. After a robbery goes a little bit awry, Brian and Charlie seize the moment to attempt a doublecross – one which will allow them to escape their lives and go straight. Of course, things don't go to plan and Brian and Charlie duck into a nuns' teacher training school – which, of course, leads to the usual comedic hijinks as they don the habit and have to both maintain their disguise while avoiding their boss, the Triads, the police, and Brian's girlfriend, Hope.

Most of the comedy comes from the situation itself and relies heavily upon the schtick that men dressed inappropriately as women is funny per se. It's a joke that is almost bled to death – it's not just nuns' outfits we have to deal with Brian and Charlie wearing…but let's just leave it at that. There are other standard set pieces of comedy in the film.

Naturally, the place they have to hide out in is also home to many pretty young women, being trained by nuns to be teachers. Robbie Coltrane, as Sister Inviolata becomes the gym teacher, getting very hot and flustered ogling his students in the showers. Meanwhile, Eric Idle, as Sister Euphemia is chatted up by the local priest and has to quickly learn Catholic doctrine from his accomplice. Camille Coduri plays Faith, Brian's girlfriend, hopelessly short-sighted and always losing her glasses to optimum comic effect. It's not a film or plot that holds any surprises, but, having said that, there are some genuine laughs here, not least because the cast pull it off the standard jokes so effortlessly – making them enjoyable to watch, even if predictable.

Jonathan Lynn states in the commentary that he was trying to create an Ealing comedy, and the film definitely feels dated, and did even when it was first released. It's cute rather than hilarious, and calm rather than high-paced.


The transfer is good, a little soft at times but nothing problematic. The outdoors shots are particularly crisp and the colours are fine throughout.


Anchor Bay offer both the original stereo 2.0 mix, and also a 5.1 mix which is definitely the one to go for. The bass really kicks in during the course of the film and, as the music score is fairly competent, it really makes a nice difference to be able to have the 5.1 audio. Despite the excellent bass and usage of rear speakers, the dialogue remained clear at all times.


Anchor Bay have once again created a very nice set of features for this fairly low-key DVD release. The first is an audio commentary by the writer/director Jonathan Lynn, revisiting the film very recently (he refers to Coltrane in the Harry Potter films) and showing his obvious love of it. Revelations include budgetary and technical constraints, how Lynn met Idle at university, how the film was rewritten for the UK, as it was originally to be a US film. There are only a few quiet moments, and when these come, they don't last for too long.

The picture gallery isn't static, unlike many, instead the pictures move gently across the screen. These are complemented by a behind the scenes gallery of the actors and crew, which comes with a commentary from Lynn and also includes some interesting snippets. The special features are then rounded off with the original trailer and biographies of the main cast members.


It's never going to be cited as a classic British comedy, stylistically it's a little too old-school to really work for me. However, the writing is fun, if not always funny, the cast excellent at what they do and the whole film works in a gentle way. This DVD adds better sound and an interesting commentary, adding value to the base product, just what a good DVD package should do and it's nice to see it being done on a relatively small film.

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Last updated: 19/04/2018 17:54:16

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