There is a lot more to this movie than there is to this movie
A dynamic duo of “Lion King” fame returns again to the big screen in Mel Brooks’s remake of his 1963 film “The Producers,” in “The Producers.” OK, actually Susan Stroman directed the ’06 edition, but Brooks helped.
Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, who previously worked together as the voices of Simba and Timone respectively, are sensational together as the lead roles. Lane is theatrical enough (read “The Birdcage,” and eccentric questionably gay groom on “Sex and the City”). However, Broderick’s shy, and sometimes nasally voice so well recognized from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” has not had a chance to shine again until now. And shine it does. I, for one, did not know Broderick had the pipes on him to belt out “Happy Birthday,” much less Broadway tunes. Even Lane’s character, Max Bialystock, comments on what a good singer he is. But, then again, who knew Uma Thurman had a Swedish accent. Oh, wait. She doesn’t. But other aspects of her character, Ulla, the “secretary-slash-receptionist,” translate, “leading lady-slash-sex icon,” make up for the lapse from Swedish to English and everywhere in between.
The movie begins with Max having a romp with a little old lady in his office before Leo Bloom, played by Broderick, interrupts them. Bloom quickly looks over the Broadway play producer’s books and asks Max to explain where $2,000 went. After a hysterical breakdown from Bloom and a little song and dance, the two have decided to con Broadway. The mix-matched pair decide on the worst play, the worst director, and the worst cast to assure a total flop. But somewhere along the way, they go right.
Stroman certainly went right with Will Ferrell as the playwright, Franz Liebkind, who authors the chosen play, “Springtime for Hitler.” While Ferrell is known for his eccentric roles and humor, he has outdone himself with Franz. Take Frank the Tank, Buddy the Elf, and Ron Burgundy Anchorman, wrap them up in lederhosen and swastikas, topped with a German army helmet and add a strange attraction to pigeons and you have Franz Liebkind. Not only the worst playwright, but the worst Hitler as well, or so think Bialystock and Bloom. But, with the help of the incredibly gay duo, Roger DeBris and Carmen Ghia, played by Gary Beach and Roger Bart and their Village People-inspired entourage, the show becomes a smash, satirical hit.
Bialystock’s plan was to “boost” his boosters, a posse of walker bearing, gray-haired, little old ladies whose lines include, “touch me, hold me, kiss me,” into paying a total of $2 million for “Springtime for Hitler.” Once the show flopped, and closed on the first night, Bialystock and Bloom would have no way to “pay” the ladies back. But when Franz “breaks his leg” on opening night and Roger steps in, the only flop is the producer’s plan.
After an interim from the IRS, a dash to Rio, and a soulful court hearing, the producers end up in stripes, alongside their musical, crazed German friend, Franz. And here, the real partnership begins.
Chock-full of one-liners, “The Producers” is a riot from start to finish. I have no idea how it compares to the original movie, or the play, but Stroman has turned an old-school favorite into a new one. Some of the humor comes transcended through the times, while other parts are new, like some of the songs, for instance. The movie is fun, a non-thinker if you will, and a great representation of what American cinema is all about. VT
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