Dir. Oliver Parker
Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)
“Who do you think you are kidding Mr Hitler?”
Come back to 1944, just as World War II is reaching its climax. With the Allies poised to invade France - the heroes of Walmington-on-Sea’s ‘Home Guard’ might prove to be the unlikeliest of key strategic elements in the military campaign…
"reporting for duty"
Dad’s Army is a reverent big screen reworking / homage of the much loved BBC tea time sitcom. I count myself a fan of the original owing to much watching of it back in the days when there were only 3 TV channels and we couldn’t record or watch on demand.
Plot wise we find that morale amongst the Home Guard led by bungling Captain Mainwaring (Toby ‘The Hunger Games’ Jones) is at a low ebb. His shambolic unit of generable old duffers, a naïve teen and an opportunistic chancer include: Sergeant Wilson (Bill ‘Love Actually’ Nighy), Lance Corporal Jones (Tom Courtenay) and Privates Frazer (Bill Paterson), Walker (Daniel Mays), Pike (Blake ‘The Inbetweeners’ Harrison) and Godfrey (Michael Gambon).
This fantastic British cast are just excellent in recreating the classic roles – and there is much fun to had watching their bumbling antics. The men find themselves are struggling with the double whammy of being the focus of a feature by foxy journalist Rose Winters (Catherine Zeta-Jones) for The Lady magazine and at the same time ordered to track down a German spy operating in the area.
Also on hand in this modern version are the lesser seen ladies of Walmington led by the industrious Mrs Mainwaring (Felicity Montagu). This essential support network of other halves and love interests may be more use than all men put together.
There are a couple of nice cameos by original cast members including Pike (Ian Lavender) who pops up as a brigadier and Frank Williams who reprises his role as the local vicar.
Don’t be expecting huge Saving Private Ryan battle scenes, although there is a small scale skirmish at the climax, this is very much a gentler and quintessentially British kind of war film.
The funnies are mostly of the slapstick tomfoolery and inept soldiering cringe factor, backed up by the catchphrases from the original. There’s real wartime enjoyment on offer here and the characters themselves certainly make this worth seeing – sure - it’s not a classic movie but for fans of the TV series this is a mission accomplished.
Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:
(3 - Don't Panic, stupid boy...)
Awesomeness ööö – No stick is left unslapped
Laughs ööö – Good amounts of genial mirth
Horror ö – Not grim
Spiritual Enlightenment öö - the Dunkirk Spirit writ large