Posted Feb 08 2016

Dad's Army - This Movie Doesn't Rock, Mr Hitler

Dir: Oliver Parker

Starring Toby Jones, Bill Nighy, Michael Gambon, Tom Courtenay, Blake Harrison, Daniel Mays, Catherine Zeta Jones

So the new Dad’s Army is upon us and, first up, it’s not terribly good. Secondly, it’s by no means the slab of cultural rape it has been labelled as by some. If anything, it’s on par with the TV’s show own big screen spin off of 1971, i.e. not very good and not a patch on the original.

On the plus side it is brilliantly cast – from Jones to Nighy to Harrison to Gambon and more – it’s hard to imagine a better selection stepping into those army boots of old. On the negative side, as good as these actors are, far too often they fall into impersonations of the original actors, more than their own takes on the original characters. Hard not to, when Parker and his team are at pains to bang in every old catch phrase and reference from the beloved TV series. Even going so far as to half-drop them with “You stupid…” and “They don’t like it…” paraded as aural, button-pressing teases.

There’s a plot involving Zeta Jones as a Nazi spy, and the inclusion of women in the form of Felicity Montagu’s previously unseen Mrs Mainwaring, and the excellent Sarah Lancashire’s Mrs Pike; even Mark Gatiss pops in, but seems intent on doing Stephen Fry from Blackadder Goes Forth. Either way, what all this expansion adds (as in the 1971 film) is, well, nothing much. It detracts from the core, but this film clearly knows from the off that it is never going to capture the magic of that core.

It’s easy to be purist when it comes to remakes of beloved things. But it can be done. Just not here. Not as bad as you may have heard, serviceable on many levels (apart from the at times painful attempts at high farce and physical comedy), but ultimately unnecessary. One good Churchill gag, though.


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