Musicals are always difficult. And although the mix of theatrics and film may to some be as dangerous as uniting church and state, it’s when you’re unprepared for extremists that they score a hit. A musical film based on a musical based on a film about a musical (1968 film with Gene Wilder (the original Wonka) and Zero Mostel (Fiddler on the Roof); Broadway musical 2001), The Producers is a very faithful remake, married well to the latter-day musical.
It’s the story of an unscrupulous Broadway producer whose naïve bean-counter absentmindedly discovers how flops could make more money then hits. The two then go into partnership, sourcing the worst play, director and cast. The ‘latest neo-Nazi musical’ of Springtime for Hitler is comedic genius, with fantastic choreography and sumptuous visual imagery, as well as spoof homage to the heart-wrenching inspirational themes of contemporary musicals. Hitler is simply fabulous as a camp mincing cross-dresser gaily heil-ing himself and revealing the three golden rules of Broadway. (Keep it gay, keep it gay, and keep it gay).
Nathan Lane plays producer Max Bialystock: conning old widows out of cash in exchange for certain services in order to finance his flops. His accountant Leo Bloom is played by Matthew Broderick, who somehow has amazingly still retained his boyish charm after all these years. Uma Thurman as Swedish Ulla is gorgeous, and I forgive her occasional accent slips and near-perfect dancing. I would have many different herrings with her any day.
The subject play is written by an insane pigeon-loving Nazi (Will Ferrell) who wants to clear Fuehrer Adolf Elizabeth Hitler’s name – a man he claims was a fantastic dancer and victim of circumstance. This film also allowed Ferrell and me to resolve our differences peacefully over Bewitched.
The Producers melds some great characters, an excellent script, as well as some cool cameos (and lots of nerdy-trivia for film buffs and James Joyce fans…). If you like quirky, light-hearted and farcically ridiculous hilarity it’s here with flashing neon lights.
Directed by Susan Stroman