The Producers (12A)

Film

Musicals

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Time Out says

Mon Dec 19 2005

On its 1968 release, Mel Brooks’s original movie shocked by cocking a snook at the Nazis, as two theatrical schemers banked on their show ‘Springtime For Hitler’ becoming a surefire flop so they could snaffle their backers’ money. Time has softened such notoriety, leaving us a comedy classic – graced by irreplaceable turns from shyster Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder’s meek accountant and nutty playwright Kenneth Mars – latterly cannily redrafted by Brooks into a wildly successful Broadway musical thanks to a retuned plot and added production numbers.

Now we get the film of the show of the film, except it’s not really much of a movie, more like a recording of the stage version. Theatre director Susan Stroman clearly has little idea how to shape comedy and music for the screen, so she just plonks the camera down and lets the show roll on, allowing the Broadway cast of flamboyant impresario Nathan Lane and ambitious bean-counter Matthew Broderick to play it to the back of the gallery. On celluloid this proves brashly overstated yet somehow lifeless, while the energetic efforts of Will Ferrell’s Nazi-loving writer, and a howlingly miscast Uma Thurman as sexy Swedish secretary Ulla, also struggle to raise the spirits. True, the brightly artificial production values recall the widescreen extravaganzas of the ’50s, but dismayingly little thought has been given to reinventing the material for today’s cinema stylings. Of course, the gags are indestructible to a degree, and ‘Springtime For Hitler’ remains a kitsch show-stopper, but this is extraneous for anyone who’s seen the original film or show, presumably leaving everyone else to wonder what all the fuss has been about.
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Release details

Rated:

12A

UK release:

Mon Dec 26, 2005

Duration:

134 mins

Cast and crew

Cast:

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

Producer:

Jonathan Sanger, Mel Brooks

Lyricist:

Mel Brooks

Music:

Mel Brooks

Screenwriter:

Mel Brooks, Thomas Meehan

Director:

Susan Stroman

Cinematography:

Charles Minksky

Production Designer:

Mark Friedberg

Editor:

Steven Weisberg

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