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Overall Rating
3.59

Awesome: 18.07%
Worth A Look48.19%
Average: 19.28%
Pretty Bad: 3.61%
Total Crap: 10.84%

9 reviews, 29 user ratings


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Producers, The (2005)
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by Collin Souter

"Stick around...even the credits are funny"
4 stars

Mel Brooks’ “The Producers” will always be funny. I know that now. Having seen the original many times and having seen this re-invention once, I can honestly say that the material holds up beautifully and probably always will. With or without musical numbers, Mel Brooks’ tale of a Broadway producer who sets out to make the world’s worst play has a timeless appeal. It’s pretty hard to screw up. Though the new version doesn’t quite achieve the status of “classic,” it succeeds in having a fresh and funny life of its own. If you’ve seen the original countless times, you already know much of the dialogue you’re about to hear, and if you’ve seen it that many times, you probably won’t mind seeing it again.

The story remains the same. Max Bialystock (Nathan Lane) has just produced a major Broadway flop out of Hamlet by turning it into a musical. His timid, obsessive compulsive accountant Leo Bloom (Matthew Broderick) informs him that under the right circumstances, a producer could make more money with a flop than with a hit (we never do find out those circumstances, but whatever). Inspired, Max decides to look for the worst play ever written and finds a musical called “Springtime For Hitler,” written by former Nazi (and rooftop bird keeper) Franz Liebkind (Will Farrell). Furthermore, they hire the worst director, a flamboyant pair named Roger (Gary Beach) and Carmen (Roger Bart), as well as a Swedish bombshell, Ulla (Uma Thurman), as a secretary.

Not much has changed in the story department, except that the character of Lorenzo St. DuBois (“That’s our Hitler!”) unfortunately never turns up. Dick Shawn’s character in the original remains one of the weirdest, most inspired comedy creations of all time. Instead, Brooks opts to have the Franz Liebkind do double duty as both author and star, mainly because Liebkind becomes such a control freak and is the only one who knows Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop, a strange paddy-cake-like shuffle dance. Furthermore, the role of Ulla has been upgraded to romantic interest for Bloom as well as object of lust for Bialystock.

Of course, the musical numbers remain the biggest alteration. Some of them work, some feel a bit unnecessary. “Opening Night,” which opens the film, is the sort of gleeful pan a critic secretly loves to dish out on a major bomb. Other songs, such as “We Can Do It” and “You Never Say Good Luck On Opening Night” pad out the material and don’t really add anything. Fortunately, the musical numbers have been treated as old-fashioned movie musicals by director Susan Stroman. Broderick and Thurman in particular have a dance together that seems lifted out of an old Rogers/Astaire film and with a Technicolor glow.

If there’s one glaring element that goes against the success of this new version, it’s that Broderick can’t do manic obsessive-compulsive like Gene Wilder. He tries, but it doesn’t work. It feels forced and not nearly as genuine. However, Broderick does retain the innocence and sweetness that Wilder brought to the role and once those first initial scenes between he and Bialystock come and go, Broderick eases into the role more convincingly. Lane, on the other hand, makes a perfect Bialystock, morally bankrupt and one of the most lovable sleazeballs in comedy history. Thurman and Farrell fare very well, though Farrell seems to be holding back a little, almost too confined to the material to make it his own.

Flaws aside, “The Producers” still makes me laugh out loud. The show-stopping “Springtime For Hitler” sequence still gets a huge laugh, maybe even bigger this time. If nothing else, this version of “The Producers” can serve as a tribute to the genius of Mel Brooks before he began his two-decade slump (somewhere after “History of the World, Part 1”). And if nothing else, this proves once again that if you want to film a stage musical for the big screen, hire a stage director, not a Hollywood director. Unless, of course, you want your film to bomb, in which case I have a doozy of a script for you called “Phantom of the Rent.” Never mind. Stick to “Springtime.” It’s classic.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=13661&reviewer=233
originally posted: 12/16/05 16:26:18
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User Comments

4/18/07 David Pollastrini it was better on stage 3 stars
12/29/06 Jennifer Raven was this supposed to be funny or stupid? 2 stars
9/01/06 MP Bartley Gaudy, tacky, loud...and it makes no apologies about it. 4 stars
8/16/06 Kathy Wonderful casting; kept my attention and kept me laughing through the whole movie! 5 stars
8/09/06 Dragon The Artist Not too bad, 1 too many perverted 1 liners, but very amusing. 3 stars
7/12/06 David Cohen Hey Broadway, quit ripping off Hollywood. Remeber when musicals were an art in themselves? 2 stars
7/05/06 millersxing A Mel Brooks comedy is no longer water cooler conversation, but it is memorable & funny. 4 stars
6/13/06 Michael Nice review. Thought Uma was fantastic! 4 stars
6/04/06 William Goss Quite amusing, if a bit overlong. Broderick misses the mark in every other scene. 4 stars
6/03/06 San Lamar UMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4 stars
6/03/06 Camilla just fun stuff, with the Mel Brooks'touch 3 stars
5/24/06 Becky Hilarious!! "Listen you broken-down old queen..." Lane and Bart are genius! 5 stars
5/03/06 Littlepurch Loved the stage show, and the film is practically as good. Lane is brilliant. 5 stars
3/13/06 Roderick Cromar Neither as bad nor as good as it could have been. 3 stars
2/10/06 Vic i lasted 20 mins..i couldnt stand it it was getting on my nerves it was so badnot even 1st 1 stars
1/30/06 Laura This is really good - definatly worth a watch despite the stagy feel 4 stars
1/29/06 Maz Utter waste of 2 Hours do not see it go and instead belt yourself stupid with a cricket bat 1 stars
1/26/06 john bale Lacking some of the magic of live stage but still terrific. Uma is magic ! 5 stars
1/18/06 DARIJA VAN HOUTEN I LOVED THIS ONE 5 stars
1/13/06 Perry Mason you can't replace Willy Wonka with Ferris Bueller. no friggin' way. Just watch it for Uma 1 stars
1/11/06 Mansi Dido Ripper entertainment for all faiths!! 4 stars
1/06/06 RICHARD FABER will ferrill steals the show as the nazi 2 stars
1/01/06 KingNeutron Hilariously over the top, but Broderick could have redone a few scenes. 4 stars
12/31/05 Littlepurch AMAZING! All the cast were good but Nathan Lane was fantastic! Hilarous. Catchy songs too. 5 stars
12/29/05 DARIJA VAN HOUTEN VERY FUNNY. I LIKED IT 4 stars
12/27/05 Luis Bode The stage version on film less a few songs 5 stars
12/27/05 C D Fantastic - don't listen to the stupid critics who trash this movie. Chances are they never 5 stars
12/26/05 Jason Morris Big, brassy Broadway musical-- hilarious from start to finish 5 stars
12/22/05 MrsVoorheesBabyBoy Funnier than the original 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  16-Dec-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 16-May-2006

UK
  N/A

Australia
  12-Jan-2006


Directed by
  Susan Stroman

Written by
  Mel Brooks
  Thomas Meehan

Cast
  Nathan Lane
  Matthew Broderick
  Uma Thurman
  Will Ferrell
  Gary Beach
  Roger Bart



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