Sorry, Mel Brooks, there
are only so many times you can go back to the well, and this musical movie
version of the musical version of your classic movie comedy (got that?) is
one too many.
Granted, you have not quite
milked your story nearly as much as your former This Show of Shows
co-writer Neil Simon has done with his 60s comedy The Odd Couple,
which is currently going through yet another revival on Broadway --
ironically with the same stars as this movie, Nathan Lane and Matthew
However, The Producers
was perfect in its original incarnation as a black comedy starring the
late great Zero Mostel and a then unknown Gene Wilder. They were pitch
perfect as a sleazy producer who tries to make a fortune by purposefully
creating a complete flop of a show and the neurotic accountant who
innocently sets off the scheme.
When the play was converted
to a musical a few years back, starring veteran Broadway hoofers Lane and
Broderick, it wasn't perfect. However, it did capture a sweet
nostalgia and sense of fun and outsized tastelessness and it became one of
the biggest hits on the Great White Way in recent years.
Ironically, this movie
version of the musical doesn't work very specifically because it was too
faithful to the stage version. This is essentially a filmed version of
the play, which kind of gets overpowering because theater and motion
pictures are such different art forms. Lane and Broderick are still
hamming it up, yelling, playing for the cheap seats without seeming to
remember cinemas have no cheap seats.
There is no acting on
display here, per se, just overacting, overly broad comedy and overbusy
musical set pieces. It kind of gives you the feeling that it was too
bad that you missed the whole thing on stage. However, it does not
really make you happy to see it on film or video. Given the choice,
there is no reason in the world not to just watch the original.