London, 1940. Aspiring jazz musician and future comedy legend Terence "Spike" Milligan reluctantly obeys his call-up and joins the Royal Artillery regiment at Bexhill, where he begins ...
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London, 1940. Aspiring jazz musician and future comedy legend Terence "Spike" Milligan reluctantly obeys his call-up and joins the Royal Artillery regiment at Bexhill, where he begins training to take part in the War. But along the way Spike and his friends get involved in many amusing - and some not-so amusing - scrapes. Based on the first volume of Milligan's war memoirs. Written by
First of all I am biased as the autobiographical novel on which this film is based is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of Milligan's career and the funniest thing I have ever read.
The film has a strong cast (but see below), but the script and direction are weak. It's as though they had no idea how to approach the material. Most of the time it's played as a "Carry On" style farce: then we get crude and jarring interludes of fashionable anti-war propaganda. The two styles just do not mesh or integrate.
As for the actors, they do their best, but the "recruits" are all too obviously in their mid-to-late-thirties, rather than the 18-22 year olds they are supposed to be. This problem makes their attempts at silliness and slapstick rather embarrassing, and the coming-of-age theme seems misplaced and irrelevant. Arthur Lowe is excellent as always, but could have been given much more to do. Jim Dale is just too cuddly to capture the central character, and has to resort to pulling faces and speaking in silly voices to compensate.
The one highlight comes very early, with Spike playing his own father- it's downhill from there.
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