Monday, January 29, 2007

The Producers (2005)

The Producers (2005)

The IMDB trivia page informs me that this version of The Producers is "...a movie about a play based on a play about a play based on a movie about a play." Which is interesting. The original 1968 film, written and directed by Mel Brooks, was made into a Broadway musical in 2001, and this film is an adaptation of the musical that features most of the cast from the Broadway show, with the only major newcomers being Will Ferrell and Uma Thurman.

The film starts with the latest musical by producer Max Bialystock (Nathan Lane) flopping spectacularly. When a neurotic and timid accountant named Leo Bloom (Matthew Broderick) arrives to work on the books for the failed musical, he makes an offhand observation that if they were to oversell a failure to investors, they could make a lot of money. This inspires the driven but down on his luck Bialystock, who asks Bloom to help him with a scheme to make the worst musical ever, with the intention of walking away with the investors' money once it fails. After some coaxing, Bloom, who harbours a dream to become a Broadway producer, quits his boring accounting job and agrees to join Bialystock. They get the rights to the worst play they've ever seen, 'Springtime for Hitler', from a crazy Neo Nazi named Franz Liebkind (Will Ferrell). They convince the worst director available, Roger DeBris (Gary Beach), to helm the production. Bialystock and Bloom both fall for a beautiful Swedish actress, Ula (Uma Thurman), during an impromptu audition and hire her as a secretary and actress. With all the players in place, the two producers put their plan in motion. Naturally, things don't quite go to plan.

I don't know anything about the Broadway musical, and haven't seen the original film. I believe the plot is pretty much the same in all of them. This seems to me to be a recreation of the musical as a film, and not really an adaptation. It's much like watching a stage play on screen. As such, I don't know how it holds up to the stage version. All I can say is, as someone who's not usually a fan of musicals (the only one I care for is Moulin Rouge, which is actually one of my favourite films), I had a great time watching this. It's manic and fun, with catchy songs and lively routines. It's got wacky characters and the story is consistently amusing. The performances are great across the board - I'm not normally a Mathew Broderick fan, but he's really good in this. Nathan Lane is hilarious, as is Will Farrell. My favourite performance though was Uma Thurman's - she's gone from playing a sword wielding warrior in the Kill Bill films to a ditzy temptress, and somehow it works perfectly.

My only real complaint with this film is the overuse of gay gags, which get repetitive after a while. Other than that, it's a fun film that only the staunchest of musical haters will fail to enjoy. Although, looking at the IMDB rating for it, I could be wrong.

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