Jackboots on Whitehall DVD

Monday, 14 February 2011 11:23

There have been many spoof movies over the years which have used wartime as a backdrop. Spielberg’s “1941”, Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker’s “Top Secret”, Peter Richardson’s “Churchill – The Hollywood Years”. That trio all had a unique approach to their storytelling, and were brave enough in their execution to only partially succeed – rest assured that these were films you either loved or hated, never somewhere in between.

And so, joining this merry band of genre-busters is “Jackboots on Whitehall”, a film that is populated by a collection of progenies from the illegitimate liaisons of Action Men and Barbie dolls. Featuring the voice talents of Ewan McGregor, Alan Cumming, Timothy Spall, Rosamund Pike, Dominic West, Richard E Grant, Alexander Armstrong, Sanjeev Bhaskhar, and many more, this is WWII revisited from the angle of “Toy Story”. You have high hopes for it, but it could have been so much more.

Jackboots on Whitehall - check you get the reissued DVD“Jackboots on Whitehall” is in effect alternative history of World War II, where the Nazis seize London, and the nation must band together to repel the invaders.  It is the debut movie from brothers Edward and Rory McHenry, acting as both the writers and directors. The film premiered in June 2010 at the Edinburgh Film Festival, where it uniquely received a unanimous ‘Special Mention’ from the jury for the Michael Powell Award.

The action begins as the Nazis, led by the campest Hitler ever put onscreen (voiced by Alan Cumming going over-the-top), plan an invasion of England. Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall) decides there is no choice but to make an evacuation to ‘Scot Land’. However, somewhere in England's stereotypical green and pleasant countryside, farm worker Chris (Ewan McGregor) is trying to win the heart of Daisy (Rosamund Pike), while rueing the fact that he can't fight for his country because his ‘hands are too big’.

When the Nazis finally invade, blitzing London in the process, it falls to Chris and his countryside cohorts to come to the rescue; the rag-tag band head to Hadrian's Wall to seek help from the ‘bloodthirsty’ Scots.

While the film is fun to watch (and actually reminds me more of Michael Bentine’s Potty Time than anything else), you feel like the humour could have been cranked up a bit.  I found myself almost willing the film to be funnier than it turned out to be in the end.  The iconic acting cast really try and give more ‘oomph’ to the material than it actually deserves – while the voices are cranked up to ‘11’ on the effort scale, it’s almost the case that the visages of the plastic cast don’t have that much character in them.

Some of the ‘off the shelf’ reviewers have compared this movie to “Team America: World Police”, which was an entirely different style of script and animation execution to “Jackboots on Whitehall”. Like a stick of rock, this movie has ‘British’ fully stamped through it, and actually shares more with the likes of Ealing comedies than anything from Stateside (much like “Top Secret” and “Churchill – The Hollywood Years”, which were themselves filmed in the UK).

It’s a thoroughly daft film, all in all, and will play well late nights at most street-cred homes across the country.  What non-Brit audiences have made of it is anyone’s guess!

The DVD actually originally came out at the end of January 2011, but unfortunately there was a major mastering error, meaning around 20 minutes of the film – a whole chapter, at a crucial time, was missed out (despite it being on the DVD, the authoring dropped it, meaning the film jumped over major battle scenes!).  However, stock was recalled, the disc remastered, and it’s now back on the shelves in the correct form.

However you should check you have a running time nearer 95 minutes than 76 minutes, or you’ll have secured one of the ‘originals’. The jump happens at 1 hour 9 mins and 23 seconds.  It goes from a scene in the Scottish caves with our big-handed hero being captured, to the Scottish bravehearts having wiped out the Nazis (which we have seen none of).

DVD Special Features include:

  • Crew Interviews
  • ‘Behind the Scenes’ – Featurette
  • ‘The Swastikas’ – Featurette
  • ‘Bad Day to be a Nazi’ - Featurette
  • ‘Hitler's Rat Pack’ - Featurette
  • ‘The Nazi Hotties’ - Featurette
  • ‘Explosions’ – Featurette
  • ‘Voice-Overs’ - Featurette

“Jackboots on Whitehall” is out now from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, has a running time of 95 minutes approx, a ‘15’ certificate and a RRP of £15.99 – or get it for less at www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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