Film review – Dad’s Army (Oliver Parker, 2016)

Dad’s Army is one of the best-regarded sitcoms to ever come out of Britain. A film would always have two almost certain outcomes: making a lot of money and not living up to the public’s fond memories of the original series. In this sense Oliver Parker’s 2016 effort doesn’t disappoint.

This film adaptation stars Toby Jones as Captain Mainwaring, the leader of a Home Guard [1] platoon the fictional Walmington-on-Sea in England during World War II. His platoon consists of Sergeant Wilson (Bill Nighy), Lance Corporal Jones (Tom Courtenay), Private Godferey (Michael Gambon), Private Pike (Blake Harrison), Private Walker (Daniel Mays) and Private Frazer (Bill Paterson). They are being visited by glamorous journalist Rose Winters (Catherine Zeta Jones), there to report on the Home Guard.

The authenticity of this film is, to the untrained eye, fantastic. The colour washes and costumes give it the feel that you genuinely are watching a Home Guard operation in 1944. There is a clear attention to detail that has gone into this and the film is much better for it.

The plot, generally, is enjoyable. It is pitched at the right level between the series and what is expected of a big-budget film. It puts the Home Guard into a potentially larger plot that is at the centre of the war efforts.

Where this film majorly falls down is the humour, or lack thereof. The writing was on the wall with the trailer, which felt a little flat. Unfortunately, most of the best material was featured in one or more of the trailers, and between these moments the humour was lightly sprinkled in a way that may bring a smile to the audience members’ faces but never succeeds in delivering a belly laugh. In this sense it has been a huge failure in comparison to the original series.

The actors do a wonderful job impersonating the original cast members, to scarily uncanny levels. This is perhaps the only time when all these stars will grace the screen together and it is a real letdown that the material they’ve been served is so underwhelming.

A massive disappointment.

[1] During World War II, those unable to serve on the front line provided a second line of defence on British home soil. Platoons were generally made up of those too old or too young to serve in battles, individuals with injuries or illnesses that prevented them from being on the front line and those with professional occupation that were exempt from joining the front line war effort. It was a significant operation, consisting of around 1.5m volunteers.

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