Who do you think you are kidding Mr Parker? Nearly 40 years since Arthur Lowe’s George Mainwaring filmed his final scenes as Captain of Wilmington-on-Sea’s ragtag Home Guard outfit, St. Trinian’s helmer Oliver Parker has taken Dad’s Army to the big screen. Mainwaring, Wilson, Godfrey, Pike, Jones, Walker and Frazer… they are all back, as their fictional seaside village becomes the focus of national security’s attention with a German spy on the loose.
With re-runs still ever present on our telly boxes today, you’d be hard pressed to find someone, young or old, who hasn’t heard these two words bellowing from their screens: Don’t panic! Panic we bloody well did, as talks of rebooting a British institution sent shivers down the spines of many – and, it seems, for good reason.
There’s no denying the impressiveness of its cast: Bill Nighy, Toby Jones, Michael Gambon and Tom Courtenay are the picks of a stellar bunch, yet there’s no saving this boring 21st take on an ol’ TV gem. Too much Catherine Zeta-Jones (as reporter Rose Winters), and little new ground trodden: Jones tries his best to capture Mainwaring’s hard-nosed mannerisms, Nighy’s nervous persona is well-fitted to the reserved Sergeant Wilson, while Gambon, Courtenay and The Inbetweeners’ Blake Harrison play stupid well as Godfrey, Jones and Pike respectively.
Yet a bland central premise (a pretty stranger walks into town…), matched with a slapstick sense of humour that had run its course by the time we’d been doused in our first famous catchphrase, further contributed to Parker’s remake, not-so-surprisingly, falling flat on its remarkably tiresome arse.