Like a worn-out recording of my favourite song
This film, based on the tremendously popular "Are You Being Served"
British television show that ran from 1972-85 (and still endures on
American public television), falls pitifully flat. It plays like one
long episode of the television series, but without the spark that
earned the series its large and affectionate following.
Had this film come at or near the end of the television series'
original production run, we might have concluded that the writers
and/or players had lost some creative energy. But it didn't. It was
released in 1977, at the height of the show's popularity. After the
film, the same people went back to create some of the most enjoyable
and memorable episodes of the show--they were by no means washed up.
The plot plods doggedly through bits recycled from the television
series, including some wince-inducing cultural slurs and too much
toilet/fart humour. The writers even stoop to the "walk this way" gag,
which is as old as time itself. Regular viewers of the TV show will
tire at the cut-and-pastedness of the script; newcomers will sit
puzzled by the running gags and in-jokes that one can only "get" from
the TV show.
The actors, while masterful at playing to a live audience (which they
did for the television series), seem off balance without the buoyance
of audience response, often pausing for laughter that never comes.
The aural atmosphere is either dead and silent, containing only the
players' voices, or filled in by a Muzakesque musical score entirely
indifferent to the events on screen. The lighting also has an unnatural
spotlight quality at times. Like makeup, good lighting should look like
none at all.
That there is tremendous talent here, both in the players and the
writers, has been well demonstrated before and after this film. But not
Grace Brothers staff go on holiday
When Young Mr. Grace sends the staff of Grace Brothers to Costa Plonka
on vacation while the store is being remodeled, they find the
accommodations less than they expected, including being at the center
of a revolution.
Based on the popular television series, and utilizing the same actors,
Are You Being Served? The Movie has a very different feel from the
former. It is partly the difference in filming techniques from little
screen to big screen. Unfortunately, the storyline, while it might
carry well for an episode on the show, simply does not fill a feature
length movie. Few of the jokes are original, simply taken from the
show. While this has some nostalgic value, it does not help carry the
movie for more than a few minutes. As a result, the humor is not up to
the standards of the show.
Some have made comments criticizing the set used in the movie. I found
the use of few, inexpensive sets to be one of the better parts of the
movie, and brought it closer to the original show.
While the acting and characters remain faithful to the original series,
this movie is not one that I would watch over and over again. I enjoyed
the movie to a certain extent, and always like to see the further
misadventures of the Grace Brothers' staff.
For those who are great fans of the series, this movie will be somewhat
of a disappointment, but may still be worth watching. For those who
have never seen the series, this movie should not be the introduction
to Grace Brothers..