Jackboots on Whitehall
dir-scr Edward McHenry, Rory McHenry
prd Karl Richards, Patrick Scoffin
voices Ewan McGregor, Rosamund Pike, Dominic West, Richard E Grant, Timothy Spall, Tom Wilkinson, Alan Cumming, Richard Griffiths, Richard O'Brien, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Stephen Merchant, Pam Ferris
release UK 8.Oct.10
10/UK 1h34
Jackboots on Whitehall
My what big hands you have: Chris leads the charge


mcgregor pike west

edinburgh film fest
raindance film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Jackboots on Whitehall Like a British variation on Team America, this loudly hilarious wartime romp pushes its parallel-reality scenario in some very funny directions, although it perhaps relies too much on postmodern pop-culture references. Even so, it keeps us chuckling.

In this WWII-era Europe populated with stop-motion dolls, the evacuation of Dunkirk was a miserable failure. This opens the door for Hitler (Cumming) to invade London by tunnelling from France. But Winston Churchill (Spall) won't give up without a fight, and he's joined by heroic farm boy Chris (McGregor), blustering Yank Fiske (West) and the lovely Daisy (Pike), daughter of a country vicar (Grant). As the Nazis move in, the English resistance decamps to the north, where they hope to get help from the barbarians in Scot Land.

Filmed "in glorious PanzerVision", this movie takes broad swipes at everything from Eurovision to The Lord of the Rings, plus a lacerating climactic satire of Mel Gibson's Braveheart. Most of this is so deeply silly that it disarms us completely: it's impossible to be offended by something that's so deliberately incorrect politically, so we just laugh with it instead. The filmmakers accompany everything with thunderous war-movie music (by Guy Michelmore), constant double entendre and running gags that range from the warped (Chris' big hands) to the ridiculous (Fiske's unswerving belief that he's fighting the Commies).

And since the figurines are stiff dolls with immovable faces, the voice cast goes rather over the top to create memorable characters. Spall's sputtering Churchill is especially hilarious ("Eat hot lead, Fritz!"), while the depraved Nazi commanders (including Wilkinson's weaselly Goebbels, Griffiths' crazed Goering and O'Brien's queeny Himmler) partying in Buckingham Palace is just so wrong that we almost feel guilty laughing at them.

In the end, the film never quite makes a salient point about anything. It's merely 94 minutes of pointing and laughing at juvenile variations on historical figures, or more accurately at the way the movies portray them (yes, William Wallace has an Aussie accent). Yet the strains of Jerusalem over the climactic battle are oddly rousing. And it's difficult not to enjoy a film that so shamelessly goes for broke, even if we're not quite sure why they bothered.

cert pg themes, language, violence, innuendo 18.Jun.10 eiff

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