Directed by Susan Stroman.
Written by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan. Based on the 1968
film of the same name.
Starring Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman and Will
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 12/21/05
Even if you haven't seen the 1968 original
or the long-running stage production of the Mel Brooks production
"The Producers", you certainly have at least some idea coming in
what this one's about: a long-time Broadway show producer, Max
Bialystock (in this version, Nathan Lane) and an accountant that has
longed to work in production, Leo Bloom (Matthew Broderick), run the
numbers of Max's latest show and realize a startling fact: it
actually might be more profitable to raise a lot of capital for a
show and then have that show flop than to have the show actually do
well with the public. So, they come up with a plan--develop a
play so repulsive and so God-awful that the opening night show will
bomb, bad reviews will pour in and the producers can take the
majority of the raised funds to make a killing with a big bump in
the bank account.
The show that the producers put on,
"Springtime for Hitler", has to be awful, so to cement the deal Max
pulls out all the stops: he hires a crazy neo-Nazi follower
(Will Ferrell) to write the lines for the play; he hires the world's
worst production designer and choreographer, Roger de Bris (Gary
Beach), and then he holds auditions for actors that have no prior
acting experience ONLY. In addition, Max and Leo decide to
cast a walk-in named Ulla (Uma Thurman), a hot,
poor-English-speaking woman as one of their leading ladies.
Oh, and did I mentioned that the show is a celebration of Hitler??
I hadn't seen either of the previous
versions of this screenplay, so this was all fresh material to
me...and, as such, I thought that after an initially-slow 20-minute
beginning "The Producers" picks up steam and finishes strong thanks
to the hilarious script by Brooks and the sheer energy of Lane &
Broderick in the lead roles. The two leads are perfect; Lane
is a natural at this but I gain a bit more respect for Broderick
with each successive role, and when you realize that he has somehow
stayed relevant for so long without ever having been a true breakout
star (his biggest role is still "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", and that
was 20 years ago), my respect for him grows flick by flick.
Still not looking a day over 30 (he'll be 44 next March), Broderick
could do this for 10 more years without batting an eye, but not only
due to his looks but also due to his talent for slaying these nerdy
weird guy parts with aplomb.
The supporting cast is also strong, none
more so than Beach, who as the amazingly flaming-hot de Bris has
maybe the second-best part in the production, behind the Max
character. I don't know anything about Beach's previous work
(besides knowing that he was in the stage run of "The Producers")
but it is strong enough here to warrant a second viewing.
Ferrell is back on track here following a rough year of so-so to bad
"Wedding Crashers", "Bewitched" and that Woody Allen flick from
earlier in the year; Thurman doesn't detract from the other
performers with her one-note part by just looking real good in each
scene. Cameos from the likes of Jon Lovitz and Michael McKean
also work in the audience's favor.
Really nothing bad to say about this; once
it got rolling, the songs and the laughs and the in-movie play are
all solid and I found myself wishing that I had seen the stage
production before seeing the film. Good stuff, if you like to
watch men sing and dance in your movies.
Rating: $9.50 Show
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard