The casting department for the cinematic realisation of Britain’s beloved sitcom, Dad’s Army, deserves a lot of credit when it comes to the classic series’ almost-successful transition to the silver screen. In secruing the likes of Toby Jones, Bill Nighy, Tom Courtenay and Michael Gambon, amongst others, this feature-length remake is a lot funnier than it would have been without them.
The story, which sees a German spy enter Walmington-on-Sea whilst Captain Mainwaring and company are distracted by the conveniently timed arrival of a glamorous female journalist, has all the makings for comedy gold but ends up being comedy bronze at best.
The main problem lies with Hamish McColl’s half-baked script which, put simply, isn’t funny enough – desperately so. There are a few moments throughout – a bull chase, for one – which are so in your face, that I was half expecting McColl himself to walk on screen with a sign reading ‘laugh here’. However, the written gags rarely achieve their desired effect – I saw this in a room full of people of all ages, who remained silent throughout.
Yet, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t laugh at all throughout Dad’s Army. In fact, I chuckled and chortled throughout thanks to the film’s stellar cast. The jokes may be rubbish, but the performances are far from it. Not only do Jones and his co-stars do practically perfect impressions of their original counterparts, but through their typically British-bumbling charms, they manage to turn a poor script into a slightly better one. Across the board, the cast are so good that they somehow manage to make you forget about the terribly unfunny stuff.
One thing I will say in defence of the McColl’s script, is the most welcome addition of female characters to the story, once again played by a talented bunch which includes Sarah Lancashire, Catherine Zeta Jones, Alison Steadman and Annette Crosbie. Here, the wives and ladies of Walmington-on-Sea play an important part to proceedings and are represented, rightly so my fiancée might add, as level headed, loyal and intelligent whilst the men are thrown into a state of hysteria due to the mysterious visiting journalist. In this sense, despite being set in 1944, Dad’s Army feels considerably modern and progressive. McColl should be commended for that, at the very least.
If you’re a fan of the original series, then don’t panic, there’s still plenty to like about Dad’s Army. It has all the visual and verbal cues that you would expect from an adaptation and, above all else, the cast do the characters justice. However, the performances only take the film so far and, ultimately, we’ve seen better in the original series. This isn’t the remake that I and most would have wished for, but thanks to Toby Jones and friends, it’ll do for now.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com