Movie Report: The Producers (2005)

Book coverWait a minute. Somehow, I got it in my head that this was a Mel Brooks movie, and it is. Sort of. This version of The Producers is the film version of the Broadway show, starring Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane. The Broadway show, of course, was the Broadway show version of a Mel Brooks film from the late 1960s (The Producers starring Gene Wilder). Sweet Christmas, the only way this could peg the things Brian J. reads/watches meter would be if it were the novelization of a video game based on a novelization of a film of a Broadway show based on a film. Based on a Shakespearean play in the original Klingon or something.

So: Nathan Lane plays a Broadway producer, Max Bialystock, who was something sometime in the past, but whose latest shows have flopped. Broderick plays a timid accountant, Leo Bloom, who comes to do his books and mentions that a flop could make more money for the producers than a hit if dealt with the right way. So Max presses Leo to join him, and Leo eventually does, and they look for the worst possible play to produce. They settle on Springtime for Hitler, written by a former Nazi (played in the film by Will Ferrell). A Swedish actress (played in the movie by Uma Thurman) wants to audition, and she captures Max and Leo’s, erm, lower heart, and she gets to act as their receptionist until the show comes off. They hunt up the worst director they can think of, a flamboyantly gay man, who wants to make the show gay (along with his Village People staff). The Nazi comes to the audition and impresses everyone to take the part of Hitler, but on opening night, he actually breaks a leg and cannot go on. So the flamboyant director, who knows the role, takes the part. Although the audience gets restive and offended during the opening number, when the director hits the stage and vamps it up, they think it’s satire. And the show is a smash, which puts Max and Leo in a bind.

As a movie based on a Broadway show, there’s more singing and dancing than I generally prefer in films, but I could tolerate it since it was a Mel Brooks musical. It ends with the putting-on-a-show-in-prison trope which has become fairly common–was the original The Producers the source of this? The Blues Brothers came along later.

At any rate, an enjoyable bit. But I am still not generally a fan of musicals or Broadway shows. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (he said, making allusion to a 30-year-old television program, old man). Of course, one wonders how a younger viewer not raised on Mel Brooks would do with this job given that a lot of the humor is based on homosexuality and even some cross-dressing.

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