Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Throwing Produce At The Producers

Another event took place on New Year's Eve when The BF and I ventured out to see the Mel Brooks movie The Producers. Snagged from the Broadway musical, the movie was about a down-on-his-luck Broadway muscial producer who joins forces with an accountant with aspirations of being a Broadway musical producer as well. After realizing one can make more money with a flop than a hit, they set off to marry the worst show, with the worst director and the worst star. A sudden cast change on opening night ends up making the show a hit instead of a flop, and the producers, who now have to repay their backers, are arrested for fraud. But being a musical, it all works out in the end, complete with high kicks, buffalo shuffles, and leggy dames.

The really weird part about seeing the movie was that The BF and I felt like we had entered a parallel universe. People all around us were laughing, knee-slapping and even applauding some lines in the movie. We almost didn't crack a smile through the first half of the movie and there were people behind us gasping for breath. After thinking that maybe we just didn't get it, we looked down our aisle and found another couple (man and woman) who looked like they felt the same way we did. After bursts of laughter, they too would look at each other and shrug like, "What the eff?" There were times when I actually thought to myself, "Am I really watching this?"

Except for a few admittedly funny moments during the show within the show, The Producers was basically . . . well . . . stinky. Perhaps on stage, this show is a tour de force, but translated to the big screen, it seemed excruciatingly over the top. Matthew Broderick has one facial expression (see left) and he uses it throughout the entire film. Nathan Lane delivered his lines with traditional ballistic aplomb, but almost every line should have been followed with a rim shot. After the musical numbers, the singers just stood freeze frame for a few seconds, as if waiting for applause. Uma Thurman stood out, impressing me with her singing and dancing, but even she seemed misplaced.

I was a Mel Brooks fan when I was younger: Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety, and History of The World, Part 1 were all brilliant and hysterically funny. A few years later, Robin Hood, Men in Tights was released and I could see alot of the old jokes being recycled. True, The Producers is an older comedy, but it still seemed stale and trite. I totally expected Nathan Lane to turn to the camera at any point and say "It's good to be the king". And I know that Brooks' comedies are basically humored for 14 year olds (with fart jokes and cleavage shots), but I expected more this time.

If you love love love musicals, then I guess you will enjoy The Producers. But with everything else out there right now, all the great movies, I suggest putting it down at the bottom of your list. I didn't see the
musical on Broadway, and perhaps the audience members were all huge fans of it. But we just didn't get it. And all I could think of during the show was - I missed Munich for this?


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