Dad's Army

"Weak"

Dad's Army Review


The beloved 1970s British sit-com gets the big screen treatment, although there's been very little attempt to do anything clever with it aside from A-list casting. There are some terrific gags in Hamish McColl's script, but director Oliver Parker (Johnny English Reborn) fails to find the comical potential in the material. So the film feels clumsy and muted, which is certainly not going to attract a new generation of fans to the premise.

It's 1944 in the small village of Walmington on the southern English coast, where the men who were unfit to serve in the regular army have volunteered for the Home Guard when they're not working their normal jobs. The platoon's captain is bank manager Mainwaring (Toby Jones), who leads a ragtag group of retirees (Tom Courtenay, Michael Gambon and Bill Paterson) and younger army rejects (Daniel Mays and Blake Harrison) through a series of exercises along the seaside cliffs. They've been tipped off that there's a Nazi spy in the area, but they're all so smitten by the curvy visiting journalist Rose (Catherine Zeta-Jones) that they fail to notice that she's up to something nefarious.

The material is ripe for political-edged comedy, which the script touches on in between the relentless double entendre. And the cast is definitely up for it, delivering solid performances that bring out character details while playing up the goofy interaction between them. But Parker leaves them looking adrift on-screen, never cranking up either a sense of pace or a spark of life. Each set-piece falls utterly flat, starting with the movie's opening scene in which the gang is chased around afield by a supposedly angry bull. And everything that follows feels half-hearted, which means that the Carry On-style innuendo, physical slapstick and nutty action all fall flat.

The general nostalgia may keep the TV series' fans engaged, as will the terrific cast. Jones and Nighy have some amusing moments as the bickering senior officers, working class and frightfully posh, respectively. Gambon and Courtenay find some witty angles to their dopey characters, Mays is snappy as the wheeler-dealer Frazer, and Harrison has fun quoting famous movie scenes as the dim-witted Pike. And the women's auxiliary unit is a nice touch. Zeta-Jones is always enjoyable as a slinky seductress, but the filmmakers seem even less sure what to do with her character than the idiotic soldiers do. So neither the verbal jokes nor the crazy action mayhem hits a comical mark, and the more intriguing historical elements are just as bungled. In other words, there is a lot of potential in this project, but little of that ends up on-screen.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for Dad's Army here:



Dad's Army

Facts and Figures

Genre: Comedy

Run time: 30 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 31st July 1968

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

IMDB: 8.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: Catherine Zeta-Jones as Rose Winters, as Sergeant Wilson, as Private Godfrey, as Captain Mainwaring, as Colonel Theakes, as Mrs. Pike, as Lance Corporal Jones, as Private Pike, as Mrs. Fox, as Private Walker, as Private Frazer, as Daphne, as Cissy Godfrey, Holli Dempsey as Vera, as Mrs. Mainwaring, Ian Lavender as Brigadier Pritchard, as Warden Hodges, Frank Williams as The Reverend Timothy Farthing, Oliver Tobias as Dolly Godfrey, as Agent Cunningham, Mark Tandy as Mrs. Todd, Jacqueline Tong as Lundt, Russell Balogh as Colonel Keunzer, Michael Heath as Platoon, Stuart Adams as Platoon, Neil Broome as Train Passenger, Patricia Winker as Luftwaffe Officer, Pat Carney as Pretty ATS Girl, Ellen Capron as Platoon, Philip Gascoyne as Aryan Mother

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