Published on April 28th, 2008 | by Chris2
Two Men Went to War (2004)
The true(?) story of two British army dentists who took it upon themselves to personally invade WWII France in 1942, Two Men Went to War is a delightfully light-hearted film that will put a smile on your face, and at the same time, make you think a bit.
When Private Leslie Cuthbertson (Leo Bill) gets an itching for a bit more "active" duty than simply working on soldiers' canines, veteran Sgt. Peter King (Kenneth Cranham) takes notice, and decides to take Cuthbertson on a mission of glory into France.
Of course, neither of them have any real combat experience. In tongue-in-cheek British fashion they matter-of-factly head out on their mission. Before they do so, King writes a letter to Winston Churchill outlining their attack, and encloses their paybooks as proof of their dedication to the cause.
The remainder of the picture has the two getting into jam after jam, and luckily getting out of them. From trying to "borrow" a fishing boat at high tide, to (unknowingly) sabotaging a German train checkpoint.... Their blissful ignorance is what drives the story.
At the same time, their letter continues to elude the attention of Churchill, being placed under more paperwork time and time again, until finally (and just in the nick of time) his staff comes to their rescue at their court martial.
If you're looking for an action-packed serious look at what drives men during war, well, you're definitely looking in the wrong place. You'll have to be a fan of the so-subtle and non-slapstick variety of British humor to really enjoy the movie. Sgt. King (Cranham) is the ultimate deadpan, and while Cuthbertson really isn't much more animated, the chemistry between them is incredibly funny. The look on King's face as he sits in dismay after the high-tide attempted boat heist, while Cuthbertson waits with that "what now?" look... is just perfect.
That "deadpan" plays out through the rest of the film, and at the same time King's increasing "sadness" at his situation pulls through. Such as when he discovers Cuthbertson locking lips with a French woman, and you can at the same time feel his jealousy, and his dismay that it wasn't him....
But more seriously, what you've got here is two men, one nearing the end of his career, and one just getting started, who realize that their mission in life isn't all its cracked up to be. The aim of having that one "heroic" and memorable event in their life, that we all get at one point or another, is what's at stake. Fortunately, they live to tell their tale.
Also keep an eye out for some familiar British acting faces, such as Julian Glover, Derek Jacobi, and Phyllida Law.
The soundtrack to the film is equally cozy, featuring mostly contemporary (to WWII) light-hearted popular tunes.
Flaws? Oh, I'm sure there are plenty, but if you're looking for them, you're really missing the point. Two Men Went to War is a funny journey into an aspect of human nature that drives us all, the need for some sort of "adventure" in our lives.
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Summary: Two Men Went to War is a funny journey into an aspect of human nature that drives us all, the need for some sort of "adventure" in our lives.