Adapting a classic British TV show is always going to be a challenge… bringing back to life peoples favourite characters and remaking their favourite jokes has many cliff-edges you can fall off of. Unfortunately Dad’s Army drives the whole truck off of the cliff and leaves little to salvage.

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From the opening scene in which the lead characters run away from an escaped bull the film sets up it main problem – it is trying too hard to be funny. Everything about it feels incredibly forced and outdated; be it the actor’s cariactureish performances (you’d think this is something they’d have avoided with such an esteemed cast), the poorly timed physical comedy or the terribly forced referential jokes to the TV series.

 

Then when the story properly starts it only gets worse; the story is so obvious that you can see it coming right away. The basic plot is men fawning over Catherina Zeta-Jones who knowingly leads them on because she is a German spy (spoiler alert) and wants information from them. Luckily the film does embrace the obviousness of this element and rather than trying to hide who the spy is from us makes it clear from the outset.

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We then have an hourish of jokes about how incompetent the men are, as well sausage penis jokes, references to classic cinema and Toby Jones walking into things. Even when a scene is set up for great comedy it fails to deliver. For example in one sequence Zeta-Jones is giving love confessions from three different members of the squadron whilst the others hide around the room. This is a classic comedy set piece, which relies on clever staging and good timing. But the scene fails to utilise either and this scene just feels like an amateur adaptation of a Noel Coward play. It’s so terrible bad it’s cringeworthy, in fact I’d go as far to say that Danny Dyer’s Run For Your Wife (which I previously reviewed) does this sort of joke better… because at least it makes it entertainingly bad.

The film also gives Zeta-Jones far too much screen time… the title of the film is Dad’s Army so you expect it to follow the ‘Dad’s’ so to speak, instead Zeta-Jones dominates ever scene and essentially becomes the main character. This isn’t what anyone wanted from the film and is just annoying more than anything else.

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For all the reasons that I didn’t like the film, I’m not sure my views are a fair representation as I am not someone who is overly familiar with the show. I’ve seen and enjoyed several episodes and knew the quotable lines but my knowledge of the characters wasn’t as in-depth as someone who had say grown up watching it.

Coincidentally I did happen to watch the film in audience packed full of these older people and their response was… far from great, with few laughs had (although admittedly more than me).

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There was however one woman at the back who was laughing hysterically throughout and enjoyed it so much that she attempted to start a round of applause at the end – it failed as much of the audience where either grabbing their zimmerframes and walking sticks or, like me already making for the door.

Dad’s Army is therefore a terrible attempt at comedy and another reason why classic films/TV shows should more often than not be left alone.

3/10