The Producers

During the next 134 minutes you may be forced to ask yourself “Is 10 minutes of Will Ferrell worth buying a $20 DVD?” This would be the question, if of course you were about to sit down right now and watch The Producers. And with constant cameo presence, Mr. Ferrell is forcing us to answer this question over and over again. In the case of a film like Wedding Crashers, the answer is a resounding YES! In the case of 2005’s The Producers… eh… not so much.

In The Producers, we get a dose of Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick playing Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder as Bialystock and Bloom. Did you follow that? Yes, this is a remake of the 1968 film of the same name. And like an open bottle of cheap 1960’s wine, it hasn’t exactly aged well. The 1968 version was a visionary work of musical comedy from the genius of Mel Brooks. The 2005 version… has Mel Brooks in it. And did I mention 10 minutes of Will Ferrell as a crazy neo-Nazi playwright? I think I did.

But not to come off so negative, there is a lot to be loved in this revamped version of an over the top classic. Take Nathan Lane for instance; he has not been so joyously energetic and awe-inspiring since The Birdcage. Between codling little old ladies for money and coordinating what is intended to be the biggest flop in the history of Broadway, his Bialystock sings his way into the realm of interesting and fun. Matthew Broderick, on the other hand, should remember that he is married to the Sex and the City chick and take a vacation. His best song and dance still is, and will always be from 1986 (Ferris Bueller on top of the float… remember? Good, glad to see you’re still with me.) And lest we forget the always stunning Uma Thurman who “stretches” her acting abilities to play the sultry Ulla whose stunningly bad Swedish accent is the least our worries as she prances around screen half naked and fully annoying.

And for those of you who didn’t see the original, here is the short and sweet version of the plot (spoiler free, of course): Bloom (Broderick) is an accountant sent to look over the books of famously deviant Broadway producer Bialystock (Lane). Then after thirty minutes of song and dance, the two hatch a plan to raise two million dollars and produce Broadway’s biggest flop, only spending $100 grand. Then they would run off with the money to Rio and live gay and carefree life together… In this version, they raise the money, produce the show, and then sometime in between then and the ending the decision is made by me that this DVD is going on the bottom shelf, destined for a lifetime of dust collection as it may never be watched again. If you liked the first one, don’t see this one; it will ruin the first one for you. If you didn’t see the first one… see the first one. It’s as simple as that.

The Upside:
Two words: Nathan Lane. One more word: Hysterical!
The Downside:
I know Leo Bloom is supposed to be a painfully obscure character and I heard he was great on stage, but Matthew Broderick is just trying to hard on screen.
On the Side:
Mel Brooks originally wrote the music by humming the melodies to the songs into a tape recorder and having a friend who was musically literate write it down on staff paper.

Breaking Down the DVD:
The Film: C
The Delivery: C+
The Extras: B+ (Will Ferrell outtakes = always worth it!)
Final Grade: C+

DVD Stats:
Release Date: May 16, 2006
Starring: Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman, Will Ferrell
Directed by: Susan Stroman
Writing Credits: Mel Brooks, Thomas Meehan
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Sound Mix: Dolby Digital
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for sexual humor and references.
Country: USA
Run Time: 134 min.
Studio: Universal (official site)
Watch the Trailer Here

Technorati Tags: Movie, Musical, Producers, Broadway