The Producers (12A)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner21/12/2005

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 140 mins

Stagy but enjoyable screen adaptation of Brooks’ hit musical with superb comic performances from original cast members Lane and Broderick.

What’s it all about?
The Producers isn’t strictly a remake – instead it’s an adaptation of the hit musical which Mel Brooks adapted from his own classic 1968 film. Original cast members Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick play unscrupulous Broadway producer Max Bialystock and nervous accountant Leo Bloom, who hit upon a scheme to get rich by producing a surefire flop.

They hit what they think is the mother lode with an appalling musical called Springtime for Hitler (written by Ferrell’s comedy neo-Nazi), but nothing goes quite according to plan.

The Good
The film is ostensibly directed by Susan Stroman, but you can tell that producer-screenwriter-lyricist Mel Brooks was a constant on-set presence. It’s a treat to see Broderick and Lane reprising their roles – both actors are extremely funny and display impressive singing and dancing skills. Similarly, Will Ferrell and Roger Bart get big laughs in their supporting roles.

The sets are almost exactly the same as they were on stage and the musical numbers themselves are lively and entertaining, with Springtime for Hitler the obvious highlight. Bloom’s office set (which recalls the famous shot in The Apartment) is particularly impressive.

The Bad
The main problem is that the film is extremely stagey – in fact, it so closely mirrors the Broadway show that there’s no real reason to see the film if you’ve already seen it on stage. Consequently, Brooks and Stroman make no attempt to open out the play, beyond a couple of excursions into Central Park.

In addition, Uma Thurman gives a disappointing performance as Swedish secretary Ulla. Her accent isn’t funny and she never seems entirely comfortable in the role, despite holding her own in the singing and dancing departments.

Worth seeing?
In short, The Producers is definitely worth seeing for Lane and Broderick’s performances, particularly if you’ve never seen the Broadway show. Be sure to stick around after the end credits for a final production number with an amusing cameo appearance.

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Content updated: 21/03/2019 22:51

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