The final episode of Dad’s Army aired nearly forty years ago, and its fans have had a long wait to see Britain’s most loveable home guard recreated for a feature film.
In this recreation of the 70s sitcom, it’s 1944 and the war is coming to an end. The home guard of Walmington-on-Sea receives a visit from alluring and glamorous journalist, Rose Winters (Catherine Zeta-Jones), whose beauty turns the heads of many of the officers. To complicate matters further, Captain George Mainwaring receives a call from MI5, reporting there’s a German spy in the village, and it’s up to this loveable bunch of foolhardy misfits to save Walmington-on-Sea from Nazi invaders.
Casting as perfect as this is rare to find. Toby Jones brings Captain Mainwaring to life in all his brash pomposity, as he shamelessly competes with his bashful second-in-command, Sergeant Wilson (Bill Nighy), for Rose’s affections. Also among the ranks are the panicky Corporal Jones (Tom Courtenay), and the permanently gloomy Private Fraser (Bill Paterson). The stand-out performance comes from Michael Gambon, charmingly portraying the doddery, well-meaning Private Godfrey.
"Toby Jones brings Captain Mainwaring to life in all his brash pomposity, as he shamelessly competes with his bashful second-in-command"
Rest assured, all the old catchphrases make an appearance, including Corporal Jones’ cries of ‘Don’t panic!’ and Private Fraser’s miserable ‘We’re doomed!’ Dad’s Army retains the slapstick silliness and ridiculous characters of the original, while adding new characters, such as Mainwaring’s officious wife (Felicity Montagu), who is just as wonderfully pretentious as her husband.
Rebooting a well-loved sitcom like Dad’s Army is a formidable task. What director Oliver Parker has managed to do is admirable, even if some fans may be disappointed that it doesn’t follow the original as closely as it could.
I, however, found it to be a fun little film, a cosy blanket of nostalgia, and I left with a smile on my face after the credits rolled and the triumphant tune of ‘Who Do You Think You Are Kidding, Mr Hitler?’ filled the cinema.
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