The Producers (2005)

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A failing Broadway producer and an accountant come up with a get-rich-quick scheme that sounds perfect…

This is a remake of one of the four good Mel Brooks movies (the other three being The Twelve Chairs, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein.

This is also a filming of the Broadway play based on that original movie that starred Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in the (respectively) Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder roles.

So how is it? Pretty good, overall. Personally, I prefer the original, which was written when Mel Brooks was still funny…on the other hand, although he wrote the screenplay for this (and, I assume, the script of the Broadway show) someone was keeping hold of his leash, because this is actually a pretty good script.

There are some good songs, some good scenes (I did like the ‘imprisoned accountants’ with Broderick breaking out into a Busby Berkeley routine with beautiful showgirls) and some funny jokes. Nathan Lane is, as always, perfectly funny, and Broderick’s paucity of acting and singing skills fit in well with his character here.

But…and you knew this was coming, right? But.

It’s too much. The original movie was understated, a little gem, and hysterical because it _was_ so understated and then got so completely over the top when the viewer realized what was going on and what the play would be like…and the contrast between the drabness of the world they live in and their lives, scrambling for every cent, and the unbelieveable musical review was what made it so incredibly funny. That and the fact that in the 60s, WWII was still a part of most people’s memories, instead of something that happened in the past, which made the movie all the more shocking, naughty and funny.

This show pretty much overplays every hand for laughs, beats you over the head with all the jokes, and steps on its own punch lines over and over and over. Sure, Uma Thurman is sexy and can sing and dance, but is that added value over Lee Meredith as Ulla, with a much shorter part that gets across everything Thurman was doing and more?

And Will Ferrell is just sad. Firstly, he’s too young, even with this taking place in 1959, to be the kind of burned out Nazi nutcase that he should be for the role he’s playing. And conflating the writer and star roles totally didn’t work, especially with (again) Will Ferrell playing both. Sorry, no, didn’t work for me. I missed the total lunacy of Kenneth Mars and also Dick Shawn’s drugged out hippie noncomprehension of the role he was playing.

So. Overall, it was a good effort and fun to watch…but I probably don’t need to see it again, I liked the original better and there’s not really any added value in the remake. But Mr. Otter liked it a lot, so another viewing is probably in my future…I’ll have to have an explodo lined up to reciprocate…

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