Dad's Army, film review: Who do you think you are kidding with these puns?

 (PG) Oliver Parker, 100 mins. Starring: Toby Jones, Bill Nighy, Michael Gambon

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The Independent Culture

This is a double dip in khaki-clad nostalgia, a film looking back lovingly to the much-loved BBC sitcom (1968-1977), which itself was invoking the war years in fond fashion. At times here, the humour is as feeble and as simple-minded as the film's main characters – the doddery old-timers, flat-footed youths and spivs who make up Dad's Army.

The screenwriter Hamish McColl has come up with a serviceable storyline which sees the Home Guard trying to do their bit in the build up to D-Day. The script, though, is weighed down by excruciating puns and slapstick scenes. This is the kind of movie in which characters tell secrets "incontinence" rather than "in confidence". Some of the jokes about playing-a-round with women (golf, not sex) are so pathetic that even Dick Emery would probably have passed on them. The references to the TV series (the inevitable use of lines such as "we're doomed" and the Germans "don't like it up 'em") become a little wearisome.

Much as it makes you groan, the film's trump card it its amiability. From the beatific look on the face of Private Godfrey (Michael Gambon) as he urinates against a human tree to the scene-stealing old ladies (Julia Foster and Annette Crosbie), Dad's Army captures the cheeriness of the sitcom. Toby Jones is every bit as Pooterish a Captain Mainwaring as Arthur Lowe was.

Catherine Zeta-Jones makes a suitably glamorous femme fatale. The film also begins and ends with a wallop: the prelude has the flavour of a Hitchcock thriller while the finale is staged with an energy not all of the rest of the film possesses. There is plenty to relish for anyone who remembers the series but what younger audiences and those outside the UK will make of it is anyone's guess.