Grace Brothers is to be subject to a major refit, which calls for a temporary closure of the department store. As such all the staff are going on holiday with each department sent to a different destination. This is why Messrs Humphries, Rumbold, Lucas, Grainger, Harman and Captain Peacock, as well as Ms Brahms and Mrs Slocombe (minus pussy!), find themselves all heading for the Spanish resort of Costa Plonka.
Another in the long line of British sitcoms that were given the big screen treatment Are You Being Served?, scripted by the shows creators Croft and Lloyd, falls short of the fun innuendo and situations that occurred on the floor of Grace Brothers department store between 1972 and 1985. Taking the characters out of their familiar situation and relocating them to foreign shores was a common idea for these films but here little is made of the new setting. The whole affair is rather laborious, with it taking a full 30 minutes for the cast to leave their familiar workplace and set off for Costa Plonka courtesy of the now defunct airline, Dan-Air.
On paper its hard to see what went wrong, all the ingredients seem present and correct; the innuendo, the comedic foreign accents, the camp characters, funny foreign food, inferior accommodation and that British tradition, men dressed up as women. Unfortunately, everything is executed at a pace which fails to capitalise on the undeniable comedic talent of the cast. There is little for them to do other than deliver their lines and wait for something to happen, but nothing does! The whole affair is stilted and devoid of pace. Andrew Sachs, who in a rather knowing piece of casting plays a hotel manager, is given nothing to do and even the inclusion of a military coup is lacklustre, amounting to little more than half a dozen men running around in the film's finale. There is no energy to the direction or editing – crucial in comedy - and this is best exemplified during a dinner scene in which the gang pass love notes to each other, always ending up with the wrong recipient of course. This goes on for what seems like an eternity and worse still is adapted from an episode of the show. Even the appearance of Young Mr Grace in a tank cannot lift proceedings.
This sort of comic look at Brits on holiday was done with far greater success 5 years earlier in Carry On Abroad and only the most dedicated devotee of the series may want to see this for curiosity value. Derek Griffiths fans might also want to track the film down in order to see him play a Sheik who finds himself on the receiving end of a balloon, delivered between his legs by none other than Mr Humphries. Everyone else should stick to better examples of this trend such as Porridge, The Likely Lads or Man About The House with its madcap star-studded finale.