It’s easy to write off the importance of nostalgia, but there’s clearly a big part of the human condition that hearkens back to the better days of the past and while the horrors of World War II aren’t among them, no matter how sanitised, distanced and funny they were made, the sensation of watching a classic comedy like Dad’s Army with all of your family around you is right up there. It’s for this reason that we’re kind of glad that they’ve decided to remake the show into the film, much in the same way we were with the Paddington movie, as it introduces some of the daft characters that we all watched and loved long ago to a new generation.
It has some genius casting and with the large-booted footsteps of the original stars of the TV show to fill it’s a credit to the production that it has put so much effort into finding the right people for the near legendary roles. Michael Gambon as Private Godfrey is a work of genius in itself, but when you throw Blake Harrison, Bill Nighy and Catherine Zeta Jones into the mix you’ve got a movie adaptation that feels at least vaguely presentable on parade.
Cinema: The Dad’s Army film had a UK release date of Friday the 5th February 2016. It went out in 2D only screenings, although it might have been humorous for a couple of seconds to see Michael Gambon doddering around as Corporal Godfrey in full 3D. There is no significant US release date for the film, which is hardly surprising considering the TV show isn’t really all that well known in the States, but that could change if it becomes a bit of a hit in the UK. It made its way to the big screen on the same weekend as Jack Black’s Goosebumps reincarnation and the Point Break remake, so it was the start of a week of reboots in the first weekend of February 2016 in the UK.
DVD, Blu-ray and digital download: If you missed it at the cinema, don’t panic, because it will be making its way to DVD, Blu-ray and digital download later in 2016 in the UK with a release date of Monday the 13th June.
The plot is a pretty direct port of the original 1968 TV show concept of a Home Guard platoon in Warmington-on-Sea trying to do its bit for the war effort despite their age and lack of significant training in military sotuations. The men are led by Captain Mainwaring, who’s pompous attitude, desperation to impress and charge first ask questions later mentality get him and his platoon into all manner of scrapes.
Just as World War II is reaching its climax in 1944 with the impending Allied invasion of Nazi Germany, the morale of Mainwaring’s men is starting to flag with so little to do in Warmington-on-Sea, but a mission to patrol the Dover army base. However, there are a couple of developments in the wings that stand a chance of derailing their reputation boost as they become the focus of glamorous journalist Rose Winters and MI5 discovers a radio signal bound for Berlin right underneath their noses. Suddenly they’re thrown into the thick of the war effort and it’s up to them to sort it all out.
The ensemble cast for the Dad’s Army movie is made up of Toby Jones (Alice Through The Looking Glass) as Captain Mainwaring, Bill Nighy (The World’s End) as Captain Wilson, Michael Gambon (Paddington) plays Private Godfrey, Tom Courtenay (45 Years) plays Lance Corporal Jones, Blake Harrison (The Inbetweeners Movie) plays Private Pike, Daniel Mays (The Adventures Of Tintin: Secret Of The Unicorn) plays Private Walker and Bill Patrrson plays Private Frazer. They’re added to by Catherine Zeta Jones (Red 2) as Rose and Mark Gatiss (Sherlock: The Abominable Bride) as Colonel Theakes.
There’s also a couple of the original cast members in the film as Frank Williams picks up his role as Reverand Timothy Farthing, and Ian Lavendar takes on a new role as Brigadier Pritchard, which sounds much more senior than his previous stupid boy incarnation.
There’s also Sarah Lancaster (The Dresser) as Mrs. Pike, along with Emily Atack (The Inbetweeners), Alison Steadman (Gavin And Stacey) and Martin Savage (Extras).
The film has been directed by Oliver Parker (Johnny English Reborn) and produced by Damian Jones (Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll) from a screenplay by Hamish McColl (Paddington). It’s a very British production with Screen Yorkshire and the British Film Company involved in the creation of the reboot of the BBC comedy, and DJ Films in charge of the production overall.
The British Board Of Film Certification (BBFC) has rated the film as a PG in the UK, so it’s good for all the family. There’s a little mild bad language, violence, and some tongue-in-cheek innuendo.
With so many big characters from the original TV series, the cast for the Dad’s Army film was always going to need to be impressive to live up to its namesake and the chosen actors highlights the efforts that have gone in to pulling it all together. It will never be as funny as the original and the cast will have a big job trying to recreate the subtler nuances of the characters, not least of all Toby Jones with the frustrated failings of Captain Mainwaring, but it’s nice to give it another chance to charge.
The trailer below seems to indicate that they’ve done a pretty good job of recreating a little of the provincial flare that made the original such a classic, so if there’s enough to fill out the full film it could be a decent return for the Home Guard. Reviews have been mixed following the big screen release back in February, but that probably won’t stop die hard fans from looking forward to its arrival on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download in June.
You can find out more about the original TV show at the Dad’s Army Appreciation Society website, which gave the film a fairly positive review.
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Dad’s Army movie trailer:
Catherine Zeta Jones with Toby Jones as she takes the little town by storm.
The Dad’s Army (2016) film cast lining up for inspection.