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Dad's Army Review

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The revisiting of Dad's Army some forty years after its success on British telly to the uninitiated seems oddly timed and strangely unheralded. Why now? Indeed, it seems that the British public and perhaps some Irish too were still tuning in in decent numbers to the repeats that were shown on BBC2 of a weekend. Nostalgia is one thing perhaps and though never a fan, I could see it held a certain charm and appeal for its audience. But a movie is always a tricky proposition. Having already dabbled in movies with Columbia Pictures 1971 film version with the original cast, it seemed it was time for a re-boot.


The best of British have been called to action here. Toby Jones plays Captain Mainwaring, Bill Nighy is Sergeant Wilson, Tom Courtenay is Lance Corporal Jones, while Michael Gambon is Private Godfrey. Together with Private Walker (Danny Mays) and Private Pike (Blake Harrison) they are a ragtag bunch of volunteer soldiers of the Home Guard, protecting their stead of Walmington-on-Sea as the war rages in 1944. More used to being chased by bulls than Germans, they are all excited to take up a special posting outside the Dover army base. When MI5 intercept a message sent to the Germans from their very village, the men must track down a spy in their midst in between fighting over the glamourous Rose Winter (Catherine Zeta Jones), a journalist and former student of Wilson's who has come to write a story on them.

They all play their parts wonderfully, Toby Jones especially inhabiting the role with vigour and wit while Zeta-Jones makes her part look effortless and is clearly having fun. Gambon too is a delight, as is Courtenay. Sadly though, the plot is just too thin and although nicely executed by director Oliver Parker (An Ideal Husband, Johnny English Reborn), it just never feels like it gets past second gear, sputtering through the story as it does to its conclusion. The point of the original series was that the men see no action so the fact that the film has very little in the way of it makes sense, but it leaves it relying heavily on the comedy of which there just aren't enough laughs. The humour, slapstick and general nostalgic charm just aren't enough to carry it over the line.

When the finale does bring some fizz and pop, it's all a little late and strangely unengaging.
Dad's Army is very pleasant and inoffensive but on a cinema screen it just seems too twee and uneventful. There are nods to the series and use of the much loved catchphrases, "Don't panic" and "we're doomed" so fans will not be disappointed on that front but even at that it's difficult to see its appeal. It will be telling to see if those fans still watching it on TV will make that move out of the trenches and into the cinema to see it or leave it adrift in no-man's land. Alas, I fear the battle may be lost.







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The Movie Bit: Dad's Army Review
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