Written by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan
Directed by Susan Stroman
Running Time: 2:14
for sexual humor and references.
The Producers was a laugh out loud musical comedy that had me smiling the entire time.
Max Bialystock is a failing Broadway producer. When his new accountant, Leopold Bloom muses aloud one day that a producer could make more money with a flop than a hit, Max comes up with a brilliant idea. He and Leo will team up to producer the biggest disaster Broadway has ever seen. They'll find the worst script, hire the worst director, get the worst cast, raise two million bucks and laugh all the way to Rio. So they find a script by Franz Liebkind called 'Springtime for Hitler', hire gay director Roger De Bris, along with his assistant Carmen Ghia, and have a cast lead by the Swedish bombshell Ulla and turn Springtime for Hitler into a gay romp through war time. Unfortunately for Max and Leo, the show becomes the biggest hit of Max's career! What's a guy to do??
Having not seen the original movie, or the Broadway musical based on the movie, I only knew the very basics of the story of The Producers, and the story is really, quite basic. Two guys try to put on a bad play and end up with a masterpiece. Its how the story is played out that makes this one of the best movies of the year. I can not remember the last time I sat through an entire movie with a huge smile plastered on my face. Every single performance was incredible, every scene was funny and every action was perfectly choreographed. The movie felt like it was a Broadway production. The sets were almost barren at times, there would be large choruses appearing out of nowhere, and the musical sequences didn't always fit into the scene. The musical numbers were so good however that after the first big production number, the audience broke into applause, but soon realized that unlike on stage where the cast will wait for the audience clapping to die down, movies just keep on going so if you clap, you miss the beginning of the next scene. I actually really enjoyed the look and feel of the movie because it made me feel like I was at play rather than a movie, and yet I didn't have to pay $100 for the privilege. The look of the movie was kept very simple, allowing us to focus on the actors and their perfomances, and that was a very smart move.
First there were the two leads, Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. Their performances were over the top, especially Broderick, but it kept up with the idea that this was a show rather than a movie. On stage the performances need to be over exaggerated so the people sitting up in the balcony can still see/hear what the actors are saying/feeling, and that's how Lane and Broderick performed; wanting to make sure people in the back knew what was going on. It was the supporting cast however that really stole the show. Two roles in particular were outstanding. Will Ferrell as Franz Liebkind was near genius and easily Ferrell's best performance to date. And Roger Bart (best known these days as the demented pharmacist on Desperate Housewives) as Carmen Ghia was brilliant. Whenever Ferrell or Bart would open their mouths, something funny was coming out of it. The rest of the cast, including Uma Thurman as Ulla and Gary Beach as Roger De Bris were also very entertaining. It is a rare movie where an entire cast is picture perfect. Everyone played well off of each other and their comedic timings were impeccable.
If you don't enjoy musicals then there's a decent chance you won't be able to sit through The Producers. The songs were all well done and funny, but there were a lot of them and while I thought the movie was hysterical, a lot of people might not like having all those songs. Although I do urge you to give it a shot. I think comedies in general are easier to deal with than dramas, so if you take a film like Chicago or Moulin Rouge, which were both also pretty good movies, when the characters break into song, you know the song is going to be serious. And since I've found that most musical sequences don't do much to further the plot, you kind of tune them out. With The Producers being a comedy, the songs are funny so even if they don't move the story along, they're fun to listen to. Particular standouts were "Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop", "Keep It Gay" and the entire production of 'Springtime for Hitler'.
DVD extras include a large number of deleted scenes which contain a couple of larger production numbers, a long 15 minutes worth of outtakes, an anatomy of a scene for the song 'I Want to be a Producer' and a commentary track from the director. I would have loved to have seen a larger behind the scenes which included interviews with the cast and crew and some info on the original film version and the Broadway production. I have this strange feeling that there will be another DVD release in the future that'll include a lot more, but for right now the deleted scenes and outtakes are definitely worth it. The movie translates well onto the small screen and it makes you feel like you're watching a Broadway musical from the comfort of your couch.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I would highly recommend The Producers. I can understand if you don't like musicals, but I think this is the one movie that will make you forget that you're watching people sing on film. It had a first-rate cast with amazing performances that will leave you laughing (and maybe even singing) all the way home.
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