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9 reviews, 29 user ratings

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Producers, The (2005)
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by Lybarger

"Nazi Real Thing"
3 stars

In watching this new film adaptation of the Broadway musical, which in turn was based on Mel Brooks’ 1968 debut film "The Producers," I was reminded a bizarre experiment Mark Twain conducted on a French translation of his short story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County." Unhappy with the Gallic version of his tale, Twain had both texts printed together and then retranslated the French version into an English yarn that retained the awkward French idioms. The story was still entertaining but often because of how much had been lost in translation.

"The Producers" moves from screen to stage and back to screen with similar clumsiness. Brooks’ songs, dialogue and storyline still elicit more than their share of laughter. He did win an Oscar for writing the 1968 film and a truckload of Tonys for the Broadway show. But transferring the story back to celluloid has resulted in a film that’s curiously lifeless and only fitfully amusing.

For those who’ve not had the pleasure of catching "The Producers" in any medium, it concerns a once prosperous Broadway producer named Max Bialystock (Nathan Lane) whose shows have ceased to draw crowds. He’s now reduced to being a gigolo for geriatric women.

As an accountant named Leo Bloom (Matthew Broderick) starts reviewing his books, the two discover that they could become more wealthy by staging a Broadway flop instead of a hit. By overselling shares in the show, the two could then keep the proceeds once the show tanks.

Bloom reluctantly agrees to the scheme because it’s a tad more fun than being an accountant, but staging a flop can be just as time consuming and difficult as staging a hit.

First, the two spend days digging through material before they discover a repulsive musical written by a fugitive Nazi named Franz Liebkind (Will Farrell) titled Springtime for Hitler. Second, they then recruit a leggy Swedish woman named Ula (Uma Thurman), who can barely speak English. Third, they enlist a drag queen director named Roger de Bris (Gary Beach) whose ostentatious manner is matched only by his stupidity.

Of course, despite these advantages, contingencies hamper the play’s "success."

With the material by Brooks and fellow playwright Thomas Meehan, Lane and Broderick are guaranteed to get some laughs merely by enunciating the dialogue. On screen, however, the two lack the chemistry that Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder had in the original.

While Lane has an appealingly manic energy, Broderick curiously telegraphs every thought or quirk Leo has. It’s almost like he’s issuing press releases for every line or stage direction he performs, as if he’s gotten bored from playing the character night after night on stage. It’s also hard to forget Gene Wilder’s virtuoso turn in the same role. After having seen Wilder effortlessly switch from meekness to full-blown hysteria, it’s difficult to watch Broderick stumble through the same scenes.

Farrell and Thurman both have fun their broadly drawn characters, and Beach imbues Roger with a sweetness and enthusiasm that prevent Roger from being a shallow stereotype. He and Roger Bart (who plays his assistant) grows to be so lovable that you almost wish the film were about them instead.

Brooks and Meehan deserve some of the blame for the torpid feel the new film has. They don’t open up the play, so the film, which rarely leaves Bialystock’s office, feels claustrophobic and stiff. Director Susan Stroman shoots the proceedings as if she’s videotaping the play, which she helmed on Broadway, instead of shooting a movie.

As a result, her own choreography seems pedestrian and unimaginative. There are some weak nods to Busby Berkeley, but the musical numbers, which should be the highlights of the film, often slow it down.

If you’ve never seen the story before and can’t get your hands on the newly-released deluxe DVD of the superior original, the current film of "The Producers" almost suffices. At least it’s not as horrid as something Bialystock and Bloom themselves might create.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=13661&reviewer=382
originally posted: 12/21/05 00:21:58
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User Comments

4/17/07 David Pollastrini it was better on stage 3 stars
12/28/06 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
7/11/06 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
6/12/06 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
6/02/06 San Lamar UMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4 stars
6/02/06 Camilla just fun stuff, with the Mel Brooks'touch 3 stars
5/23/06 Becky Hilarious!! "Listen you broken-down old queen..." Lane and Bart are genius! 5 stars
5/02/06 Littlepurch Loved the stage show, and the film is practically as good. Lane is brilliant. 5 stars
3/12/06 Roderick Cromar Neither as bad nor as good as it could have been. 3 stars
2/09/06 Vic i lasted 20 mins..i couldnt stand it it was getting on my nerves it was so badnot even 1st 1 stars
1/29/06 Laura This is really good - definatly worth a watch despite the stagy feel 4 stars
1/28/06 Maz Utter waste of 2 Hours do not see it go and instead belt yourself stupid with a cricket bat 1 stars
1/25/06 john bale Lacking some of the magic of live stage but still terrific. Uma is magic ! 5 stars
1/12/06 Perry Mason you can't replace Willy Wonka with Ferris Bueller. no friggin' way. Just watch it for Uma 1 stars
1/10/06 Mansi Dido Ripper entertainment for all faiths!! 4 stars
1/05/06 RICHARD FABER will ferrill steals the show as the nazi 2 stars
12/31/05 KingNeutron Hilariously over the top, but Broderick could have redone a few scenes. 4 stars
12/30/05 Littlepurch AMAZING! All the cast were good but Nathan Lane was fantastic! Hilarous. Catchy songs too. 5 stars
12/26/05 Luis Bode The stage version on film less a few songs 5 stars
12/26/05 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
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  16-Dec-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 16-May-2006



Directed by
  Susan Stroman

Written by
  Mel Brooks
  Thomas Meehan

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

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