Dad's Army review

Early on in this WWII Walmington-on Sea comedy a nefarious spy sends a coded message to the German High Command saying that the Home Guard protecting the quaint village are "weak and stupid".

It would be uncharitable to label this revamp of the classic British sitcom with that description but at various times it is indeed weak and stupid. One has a pleasing smile on one's face at the start when being reacquainted with these doltish characters, but a large swathe of this bustling escapade simply isn't funny enough. The laughs don't come despite the sterling efforts of the players, all of whom do all that can be asked of them.

Jones gets the pompous class-conscious Mainwaring down to a tee while Nighy's smooth, laid-back charm is ideal as second-in-command Wilson. Courtenay and Mays are good value as panicky Wilson and shyster Walker while Gambon raises the biggest chuckles as doddery Godfrey. If you grew up watching the TV show then you won't find fault with any of these portrayals, nor from Harrison as inept Pike or Patterson as dry Frazer.

A spirited turn from Zeta-Jones as an attractive journalist from the magazine The Lady raising the temperatures of the lads is welcome, but the farcical scene where she has visits from three of the love-lorn fools is bungled. It's a classic set-up with each one having to hide as another turns up, but it sadly fails to raise much of a titter. It's too fast and cluttered with the timing way off. A director like Blake Edwards could've mined comic gold from this situation, but here it really doesn't tickle the funny bone.

It all picks up for the climax though – its larky nature finally coming to the fore with likeable energy and engaging frolics. Go with diminished expectations and you'll find it a diverting romp, but if you're hoping for nostalgic laugh-out-loud hilarity, you'll be disappointed.

Dad's Army

Doug Cooper is a Screenjabber contributor

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