Review: “The Producers”

The original 1968 version of The Producers with Gene Wilder and
Zero Mostel was a success when it was released. Highly lauded with 2
Oscar nominations and one win, the film was by most accounts an
achievement. But, to this Mel Brooks fan, it’s always been near the
bottom of my list- right above the atrocious Twelve Chairs. So,
five years ago when the Broadway musical opened to wild praise, I was
dubious. Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in the lead roles did
nothing to assuage my fears. Since the movie opened curiosity has
gotten the better of me and I once again watched this story of the
worst musical ever, now itself ironically a musical.

I was pleasantly surprised however as The Producers ’05 is
bright airy and full of energy. Broderick and Lane have a strange
chemistry that, like a real friendship, unfolds on screen in a totally Producers_1believable way. And the songs, Broadway-style production numbers every
one of them, are heartfelt and beautifully sung.

All gushing aside, this is a fantastically fun film about the worst play
ever. Broadway producer Max Bialystock (Lane) has a history of
spectacular flops. His new accountant Leo Bloom (Broderick) concocts a
scheme wherein a producer could make more money with a flop than with a
hit. locating the worst play ever written, "Springtime for Hitler",
Bialystock and Bloom hire the worst people every step of the way
bringing in a cavalcade of wacky characters to make Broadway’s most
legendary flop.

The main cast, also including Uma Thurman as a ditzy Swedish ingenue,
sparkle on screen as they sing their hearts out with hilarious songs-
lyrics and over-the-top staging. Will Ferrell, usually grating in his
scenery chewing, is a particularly bright spot. Whenever his dizzy
Deutchlander playwright appears on the screen you can expect to laugh
out loud.

Brooks excels at using offensive dialogue, imagery, and in this case
lyrics to not enrage but poke fun at stereotypes in the broadest
possible way. The jaw-droppingly funny "Keep it Gay" number for example
should be horribly offensive, but if you overcome your knee-jerk
reaction and just surrender to the absurdest genius you’ll be laughing
for hours after screening. Special mention to the ridiculously fey
Roger Bart as Carmen Ghia who sashayed his way through every scene in a
way that would set gay rights back 50+ years if it wasn’t so
screamingly funny.

I should warn, this is in no way a movie musical, it’s Broadway all
the way. The movie is one show stopper after another and the staging
and length is right from the stage production. For some this may be a
turn off, but I hope you can overcome that fear and see this
uproariously entertaining movie. A-


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