Those aghast at the very thought of classic TV show ‘Dad’s Army’ being remade may just have been vindicated.
Because the reviews are in, and they’re a mixed bag.
Some have hammered the movie, including David Edwards in the Daily Mirror.
“Who do they think they are kidding? This all-out assault on Britain’s comedy crown jewels contains all the humour of a V2 rocket attack,” he wrote in his one-star review.
“With moments of humour strictly rationed and inspiration rarer than a pair of wartime nylons, it’s time for all involved in this career-killing catastrophe to panic.”
Robbie Collin in the Daily Telegraph was slightly more favourable in his two-star review, however, but only slightly, branding the humour 'feeble’.
Though he gave Toby Jones, who plays Captain Mainwaring, glowing praise.
“Replacing Arthur Lowe as Captain Mainwaring would, of course, be impossible. So Toby Jones doesn’t even try to. Instead, he crafts a new character – so familiar and sad and snowed under with pathos that his performance is fit to stand alongside Lowe’s own,” he writes.
The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw also seemed hung up on the perfectly valid 'why bother?’ argument, though he calls it 'amiably daft’ in his two-star notice.
“The question that suggests itself in response to all this is a spectral 'Why… ?’ Did we need a film version? Isn’t it an unhappy reminder of the days when loads of popular TV comedies would spawn ropey feature film versions, like Porridge and the The Likely Lads?” he proffers.
Several other critics, however, have viewed it more kindly, praising the performances of its star-studded cast of screen veterans if not the material, per se.
Wrote Mark Braxton in the Radio Times: “As directed by Oliver Parker and written by Hamish McColl, Dad’s Army is fond, flag-waving and family-friendly, if faulty. The humour is as broad as Norfolk, not that that’s a bad thing – the TV series often came close to pantomime – but the sitcom could be subtle and poignant, too, and I wish the film had also embraced those quieter moments.
“Plots twists are rather heavily rationed in a cartoonish plot, but the film slowly warms to its task of celebrating this very British institution, with some genuine peril in the third reel.”
In The Sun, Grant Rollings calls it 'a thoroughly spirited remake of a classic British comedy show’, adding: “So what if many of the jokes are older than the cast’s combined age? They’re the best ones. And they’re delivered by great actors.”
The Daily Mail’s Brian Viner gave it three stars, writing: “Don’t panic, it’s actually rather good fun.
“Oliver Parker’s film, while never reaching anything like the heights of the original BBC series at its glorious best, has the same sort of gentle charm and a few bursts of inspired physical comedy.”
Surprisingly, it scored a full five-star review in The Independent, Sean O'Grady suggesting it even surpasses the original series.
“All the elements that made the original such a clever and durable and indeed lovable comedy are turned up for parade, present and correct: the wit, the subtle satires on our still mostly intact class system, and the knockabout (in just the right proportion),” he writes.
“So, shamelessly enough, I can advise long-standing devotees ofDad’s Army that they need not panic, that the remake was, after all, ‘awfully wise’ as Wilson might put it. Welcome back to Walmington-on-Sea. Carry on.”
Starring Toby Jones, Bill Nighy, Michael Gambon, Bill Paterson, Tom Courteney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Blake Harrison and Daniel Mays, it’s out across the UK from February 5.
Image credits: Columbia Pictures