It’s a typical Saturday for Sid Abbott (Sid James) as he spends his time doing odd jobs such as laying the cement foundations for his new garden shed with the help of his neighbour, Trevor (Peter Butterworth). His wife Jean (Diana Coupland) is out with Trevor’s wife (Patsy Rowlands) at a jumble sale, collecting bric-a-brac for the stall they plan to open soon. Sid’s daughter Sally (Sally Geeson) sits in the garden, reading a book about environmental pollution just as their other next door neighbour, who will be moving out soon, burns his old rubbish. And while all that happens, Sid’s son, Mike (Robin Askwith) drives up in his new purchase, a falling-apart used car he has bought cheaply.
All Sid wants is the quiet life, but his family foil his mission to relax every time in this big screen adaptation of the popular television sitcom. One of the string of such British films from the seventies, this was produced by the Carry On outfit of Peter Rogers productions, and directed by regular Carry On man Gerald Thomas. It was written by Dave Freeman, but with only some of the TV cast returning and talent from elsewhere brought in, it’s more like a relentlessly suburban compilation of various UK comedy stalwarts. Any saucy humour is forgotten about in place of elaborately assembled slapstick sequences, but you could say this is the point where Carry On (in the shape of James and Butterworth), Confessions of a Window Cleaner (courtesy of Askwith), and the ultimate, cosy British sitcom Terry and June meet.
You could say that, but it wouldn’t be entirely accurate, because as far as the plotting goes, there isn’t much of a story beyond aggravating Sid and his new next door neighbours the Baines (or Terry Scott and June Whitfield in another, still familiar guise), so there’s no storylines about the dinner being ruined before the boss comes round to visit or whatever. In fact the whole thing seems hastily thrown together at short notice, and relies too much on general destruction (and a food fight) where a little more verbal wit would have been welcome. As always, James is the oasis of reason in amongst the ridiculous world he has found himself in, whether it’s his kids’ fashions of the day or his wife’s schemes, and his only lapse is trying to make his home brewed rhubarb wine into brandy; even that stems from wanting a tipple every so often, is that too much to ask?
As Jean wants to start her own stall, naturally Sid is annoyed that any wife of his would want to go out to work, even for two days a week, and even more annoyed when the house starts filling up with the junk she wants to sell. Art student Mike saves his Sunday mornings to tinker with the car at top volume, ruining Sid’s lie-in, and teenage schoolgirl Sally has become preoccupied with the state of the planet, to the extent of joining activists and ruining one of salesman Sid’s contracts. But when Mike, working as a cook in a café, falls in love with Kate (Carol Hawkins), the daughter of the Baines, Sid has to put aside his differences and arrange a marriage. The sort of film where if someone is working on a car’s engine, they will bump their head on the bonnet when anyone talks to them, the humour is undemanding, but the actors are amusing enough, even if they don’t wring many laughs from the unimaginative script, and even come across as cowed by domesticity. Music by Eric Rogers.