Are You Being Served? (1977) - movie review on The Movie Scene

Are You Being Served? (1977)   3/53/53/53/53/5


John Inman in Are You Being Served? (1977)

Are You Being Served in Costa Plonka

Young Mr. Grace (Harold Bennett) has decided to close Grace Brothers whilst much needed renovation work is done on the old department story. Whilst closed for business he decides to treat his loyal staff by paying for and sending them on a little vacation to the Costa Plonka. But on reaching their holiday destination they not only find the accommodation at Don Bernardo Palace Hotel less than palatial but they also find themselves caught up in the middle of a Spanish revolution.

Having been born back in 1972 in a small town where there wasn't a lot to do I, like I imagine many, found my evenings filled by what ever was on TV, which if memory served me right consisted of just 3 channels. As such part of my childhood included watching the British comedy "Are You Being Served?" and I have to say that as I recently started to watch the 1977 spin-off movie of the same name I felt like I was a child again, sitting in my pyjamas and dressing gown as I tucked into a Satsuma watching an episode of this innuendo filled British comedy. Now I have to admit that whilst many of the jokes still put a smile on my face I know very well that some of the humour is very typical of 70s British TV and as such anyone who stumbled across "Are You Being Served?" now for the first time might be offended by the sexual innuendo and treatment of women.

Wendy Richard and Frank Thornton in Are You Being Served? (1977)

The sad thing is that whilst the opening scenes of "Are You Being Served?" are full of the humour which made the sitcom so popular it isn't enough to make this work as a movie. The trouble really comes from taking the characters out of their familiar setting as it simply doesn't work. It isn't that the Costa Plonka is mainly a studio set, that actually keeps the movie grounded in its sitcom roots, it is the lack of a decent storyline that makes it feel like it is over stretching things out. Although in truth some of the jokes are so brilliant that you don't always mind the lack of a decent storyline.

There is something else which for me is missing from "Are You Being Served?", it is atmosphere and I believe where as the sitcom was filmed in front of a studio audience this movie spin-off wasn't. I suppose in a way it lacks some of the spontaneity which came from the likes of John Inman, Mollie Sugden and Wendy Richard feeding back on the laughs from the audience. As such whilst they all deliver the wonderful gags you feel that the whole thing lacks the energy and stifled giggles of the show.

What this all boils down to is that I have mixed feelings towards "Are You Being Served?" this movie spin-off. Whilst a lot of the innuendo filled gags still made me laugh and took me back to my childhood the whole thing struggles to come together as a movie.


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