Dad’s Army Review: “Permission to Panic, sir”

Director: Oliver Parker

Starring: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Bill Nighy, Toby Jones, Blake Harrison, Michael Gambon

The Overview

It is almost the end of World War II, and the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard are visited by a glamorous female journalist, who is supposedly writing an article on them. However, with whisperings that a German spy is also in the sleepy English village, the hapless heroes might finally see some action. Don’t panic!

The Good

As soon as I saw the posters for this, I was very pleased to see that the casting was absolutely spot on. Fortunately this transfers to the film as well, and the cast are excellent, most of whom do a great impression of their well-loved TV counterparts. Blake Harrison is loveably charming as Pike, Michael Gambon wonderfully daft as Godfrey, and Bill Nighy is dashingly sly as Wilson.

I also liked that the female characters got more attention, something that was lacking in the TV series. Felicity Montagu, most well known for playing dowdy long-suffering Lynn in Alan Partridge, is great as Mrs Mainwaring, and Catherine Zeta-Jones sparkles as the glamorous journalist, Rose Winters.

Sadly a great cast is not enough to carry this film, and whilst it is harmless entertainment, it fails to leave a lasting impression.

The Bad

The previous attempts at a Dad’s Army movie were pretty disastrous, and whilst the latest offering is not as terrible as it potentially could’ve been, it is also not as good as it should’ve been. It’s a plot by numbers, with set pieces that just about manage to raise a smile, rather than the belly laughs that it should’ve had. Opportunities for jokes and one-liners are glossed over, and it lacks all of the sparkling wit and charm of the TV series. It ticks the “fan service” boxes with some of the most well-known catchphrases making an appearance, but they feel shoehorned in and forced. It feels like they’re just there for the sake of being there, rather than to add anything new to the story.

The plot would be fine for a 30 minutes episode, but feels very thinly spread over a 100 minute movie. Most of the time I was just bored; without the laughs, it is difficult to stick with it for it’s entirety. I enjoyed Nighy’s performance, but I felt too much time was spent with his character, and it wasn’t really necessary.

The Verdict

I saw this movie so you don’t have to. It is completely inoffensive and harmless enough, but it just isn’t very good! The jokes fall flat, and the plot feels very stretched, making it feel much longer than it’s 100 minute run time. It could’ve and should’ve been a lot funnier, particularly with such a talented cast, but it feels very bland and uninspired. It’s adequate Sunday afternoon watching, but wait for it to be on TV rather than seeing it on the big screen.

Agree with everything I’ve said, or am I a terribly misguided idiot who has got it all wrong? Please let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to share as well.

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