The Producers features unmemorable music, a disappointing performance by Will Ferrell, and unwelcome changes from the original film; however, the two leads excel and are arguably better than their predecessors.
Plot: Shady Broadway producer Max Bialystock (Nathan Lane) convinces timid accountant Leo Bloom (Matthew Broderick) to join him in a scheme to over-finance a Broadway flop and flee to Rio with the excess money.
Review: When I first heard that the Producers was being made into a play starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, I considered catching it on stage. However, when I heard a movie was going to be made of the musical with most of the cast intact, I figured I would catch it here instead. If the film is any indication of the play’s quality, I’m glad I made that choice.
That’s not to say the movie sucks – it has some of the original film’s charm, and I feel like the main cast for this film outperforms their predecessors. This is especially true for Nathan Lane, who I found far more believable and less annoying as the scheming Bialystock than Zero Mostel. While I liked Matthew Broderick about as much as Gene Wilder, there’s a boyish innocence to Broderick that I think translates to the character than Wilder. I also believe Gary Beach and Roger Bart, who respectively play Roger and Carmen, were the film’s highlights.
That’s about it for the good points. I was disappointed with Will Ferrell’s turn as the manic Franz Liebkind. While Ferrell has never been my favourite comedian, I figured if anyone could channel Kenneth Mars in this role, it would be him. Instead, it was a typical Will Ferrell performance – a lot of eye-bulging, yelling, and not much in the way of variety. Uma Thurman was beautiful as always in the Swedish ingenue role but didn’t have much of a character. I was also disappointed omission of the L.S.D. character and scrapping Max, Franz, and Leo trying to blow up the theatre in the end, as I enjoyed both from the first film. I particularly missed L.S.D. as I didn’t think replacing that character with Roger was as effective as why the play inexplicably became a hit.
Then there was the music. I was surprised that the songs were as unmemorable as they were, particularly since the play had won Tony’s for their songs on Broadway. The songs weren’t horrible, just generally unnoteworthy, and the song and dance numbers became tedious and contributed to the bloated run time. The staging of the numbers and the overall production design was excellent, though, and gave a greater grandness to the proceedings than they probably deserved.
So, do I recommend this movie? I guess it’s interesting for people who love the original and for Broadway musical enthusiasts in general. However, it pales in comparison to the original, and if given a choice, I would probably choose to re-watch that film than the shinier remake.