The 2016 movie remake of Dad’s Army may not be the work of comic genius that the original was, but it is a nice nostalgic laugh all the way through, leaving you feeling fluffy and warm by the time Mr Mainwaring and his Home Guard rabble have sent Hitler and his attacking fleet packing. Some of the characters don’t quite ring as true other, but in general it’s a sympathetic recreation of the TV show, which will probably most appeal to people that know and love the old military sit one.
It may not be laugh-out-loud very often, but there are just about enough chuckles to make it a decent enough watch watch. The story sets things up well as the sleepy town of Walmington-On-Sea are thrust into the limelight as the allied push into mainland Europe starts to come to a head. The home guard find themselves the focus of both the arrival of glamorous journalist, Rose Winters, who is writing an article on them, and the prospect of a high profile mission to patrol a local army base.
Things start to get frantic when it turns out that there’s also a German spy at large in the little town, sending Mr Mainwaring’s Napoleon complex into overdrive. If that isn’t enough material for madcap action, the troop also start to vie for he affections of Rose, going to ever greater extremes in an attempt to romance the stylish new arrival to Walmington.
Toby Jones (Sherlock: Series 4) does a pretty convincing job of bringing back the spirit of Mr Mainwaring and while he’s not as direct and indefatigable as the original it’s a good effort in general. Bill Nighy (The World’s End) is one of the closest matches to the characters of old as he plays Seargent Wilson very well, and in all fairness Blake Harrison (The Inbetweeners 2) does a pretty decent job of recreating Private Pike.
However, by far the funniest casting and performance goes to Michael Gambon (Hail, Caesar!), who is pitch perfect as the oldest member of the troop, Private Godfrey. He gets the balance just right, showing the impressive range of his acting skills, and crafting a doddering gem of a performance that’s a million miles away from anything he’s done before.
Daniel Mays (The Adventures Of Tintin: Secret Of The Unicorn) makes for a good wheeler-dealer as Private Walker, but Tom Courtnay and Bill Paterson aren’t really larger than life enough as Lance Corporal Jones and Private Fraser. Equally, Alison Steadman and Felicity Montagu are a little under utilised as Mrs Fox and Mrs Mainwaring.
It’s always good to see Mark Gatiss (Sherlock) on the big screen and he’s fairly strait-laced in Dad’s Army as Colonel Theakes. Sarah Lancashire does well to ground the film as Mrs Pike and Catherine Zeta-Jones (The Darling Buds Of May) brings the edge as Rose Winters to make things interesting.
Director Oliver Parker and screenplay writer Hamish McColl have done a solid enough job of recreating the warmth and humour of the TV series. It’s definitely a DVD for the fans of the David Croft and Jimmy Perry show and if anything it’s probably a good thing that Dad’s Army (2016) doesn’t try too hard to mirror the past too exactly, so what you’re left with is a nice salute, instead of grabbing assault.
Dad’s Army (2016) DVD review: 3/5