Opening with ‘The year is 1944. On the brink of defeat, our Nation….’ the trailer for Dad’s Army filled many fans with the same optimism of Pte Fraser. ‘We’re all doomed’’. For once, Pte Fraser was right. Set in 1944, the Allies are preparing for D-Day, meanwhile a Nazi spy arrives in Walmington on-sea, intent on surveying a Dover military base, the protection of which has been assigned to the Home Guard.
On the face of it ‘Dad’s Army’ has an all-star cast, with Toby Jones as Cpt Mainwaring and Bill Nighy as Sgt Wilson, Catherine Zeta-Jones as a visiting reporter, and as Blake Harrison, of Inbetweeners fame, as Pte Pike. The cast of characters expands on the television program as the wives and girlfriends are given proper supporting roles, even giving a face to the previously mysterious Mrs Mainwaring. It’s nice to see characters like Godfrey’s sisters and Pte Jones’ ‘friend’ Mrs Fox return and receive proper roles. The platoon’s cast are decent enough but when compared to the characters they are trying to emulate, they’re nothing but an ersatz imitation. Though Michael Gambon deserves special mention as his performance is Pte Godfrey is near perfect.
The film itself though is a hollow façade, lacking so much of what made Dad’s Army brilliant. For all the little details and references such as Jones’ Butchers Van/Platoon Troop carrier with its gun ports and Godfrey wearing a flowery lei to camouflage practice, so much of its essence is missing. The fate of the war hangs on the platoon; if the spy discovers the plans for an assault on Calais are a ruse the Allies are scuppered. But this isn’t what Dad’s Army was about, it was the fate of the church hall, of Godfrey’s cottage, of the town parade, and Stone’s Amusement Arcade that they bore on their shoulders and not that of actually winning the war. Dad’s Army poked fun at the paranoia and xenophobia of war time and of the shortages and rationing that all resulted in Platoon’s various mishaps and adventures.
Aside from a brief moment of camouflage practice, the film is devoid of parachutists disguised as nuns and trying to stops tanks with dinner plates.
Dad’s Army might not be so bad if it was removed from its context, but even then it’s a mediocre watch. There really is no way to recommend Dad’s Army, especially when the TV show is so brilliant and every episode of it costs about the same as two cinema tickets. If you’ve never seen Dad’s Army before, do yourself a favour and watch the original series’. You could even just watch the excellent original Dad’s Army film that was released in 1971 that features the original cast and adapts the show perfectly. Ultimately this addition to the franchise fails to introduce Dad’s Army and will bitterly disappoint old fans.
Is it worth watching?
– Michael Gambon’s performance
Dad’s Army completely misses out on what made the show so great.
Watch the trailer for Dad’s Army
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