ARE YOU BEING SERVED?
Director: Bob Kellett
Stars: John Inman, Mollie Sugden, Frank Thornton, Wendy Richard
Grace Bros. department store is closed for renovations, so the entire staff are sent on holiday together. Our beloved crew arrive in the fictional Moroccan resort of Costa Plonka, where mix-ups and double entendre are the order of the day, and a brewing civil war provides an excuse for a third act.
That’s pretty much the entire story of this feature-length episode of the British TV favorite. One familiar, some might say stale, skit follows the next, with the hapless staff checking in to an overbooked hotel and having to bunk in teepees out the back. Mr Humphries is mistaken for Mrs Slocombe and is chased around the yard in a wig by a horny admirer. Mrs Slocombe frets continuously about her pussy, and her interest in Captain Peacock is suggested by the emphasis she always puts on the pronunciation of the second syllable of his last name. Captain Peacock wants to get into Miss Brahms’ pants, and so does Mr Lucas. And so on. So in other words, if you liked Are You Being Served on television you’ll probably enjoy the movie, released at the height of the show’s success.
I’d been drinking all day when a friend pulled the DVD of this film off the shelf, and I had a ball. We kept telling each other how stupid it was, but had to replay a couple of scenes because we’d been laughing too hard to hear them. Somehow, once you hit a certain blood alcohol level, you tune into the wavelength of this humour. Every time Mr Humphries (John Inman) clacked into view in yet another ridiculous outfit, we fell apart. Miss Brahms cheese-grater voice and saucy put-aways also brought the house down.
The suggestive carnality of the tv show has been ratcheted up a level in the film, with Mr Humphries a most voracious homo and the horny yearnings of all the ensemble very much on display. The absence of the laugh track is something else that takes a bit of getting used to. Oh, and look for Andrew Sachs, Fawlty Towers’ show’s long-suffering butler Manuel, as an efficient Costa Plonka hotel concierge.