Film review: Dad’s Army – Stuffed with British talent

I may be fairly young in years, but I grew up around comedies like Only Fools & Horses, One Foot in the Grave and of course Dad’s Army. I remember many evenings sitting at home with my dad as he cried with laughter at all three, though it was the latter’s influence that stuck with me the most.

Dad’s Army, like so many classic TV shows, is getting the silver screen treatment, but does this modern-day re-imagining, with an all-star British cast live up to the series that delighted so many for so long?

Tom Courtenay, Bill Nighy, Toby Jones and Michael Gambon in Dad's Army. Photo by Universal Pictures.

Tom Courtenay, Bill Nighy, Toby Jones and Michael Gambon in Dad’s Army. Photo by Universal Pictures.

The movie adaptation of Dad’s Army follows on from the TV series, taking place just before the Second World War comes to an end. In Walmington-On-Sea, the Home Guard, led by Captain Mainwaring must track down a German spy, who is intent on swaying the war in their favour.

A whole host of British talent, young and old, star and each and every one of them slots perfectly into the well-worn shoes of classic characters. From Michael Gambon’s effervescent performance as Godfrey and Toby Jones’ faithful portrayal of Mainwaring to Inbetweeners star Blake Harrison taking on the role of Pike, it feels as though the casting team really put a lot of thought into getting the characteristics right.

It doesn’t stop there, fantastic Welsh actress Catherine Zeta Jones, TV favourite Sarah Lancashire and Victor Meldrew’s long-suffering wife Margaret (Annette Crosbie) all make appearances for the fairer sex, with each bringing something to the table.

The scenery is beautiful, filmed just a couple of hours up the road in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, the normally vibrant seaside town is transformed into 1940s Walmington with an enviable amount of detail. Elsewhere, the White Cliffs of Dover are replicated exceptionally at Flamborough on the east coast.

Unfortunately, the story is a little on the light side, barely managing to stretch to the film’s slightly overlong running time. This is an issue that blights many TV to film projects and it feels like this unbelievably talented cast is somewhat wasted with a fairly run-of-the-mill plot.

It also feels like the comedy is on rations. Yes, it’s nostalgic with constant references to its small-screen counterpart, but it comes across like the producers were too busy trying to shoehorn as many elements of the TV series into the film, without concentrating on what Dad’s Army was all about – laughs.

Nevertheless, there is plenty to enjoy despite a lack of giggles. The acting is, as said previously, remarkable with fans of the series and newcomers alike being able to enjoy the warm, typically British feeling these thespians bring to the film.

Overall, Dad’s Army is a decent, albeit slightly underwhelming, effort in bringing one of the most popular TV shows of all time to the big screen. Its talent and casting are undeniable and the filming style is very impressive, but a lack of attention to the plot and a comedy drought stop it short of achieving what it clearly set out to do.

Dad’s Army rating: 6.5/10