The Producers may mark the first time a movie has been adapted from a Broadway musical which was already adapted from another movie. However it won’t be the last. Hairspray is on its way to theatres in 2006.
This new film of The Producers has been made almost as if the director stuck a camera in the theatre and filmed the Broadway production. The staging is confined, the humour is broad and the performances are projected to the back row. Normally, these qualities, while good for the stage, would ruin a film but there is something about the magic of Mel Brooks’ book and this cast (especially the marvellous Nathan Lane who was born to do these kinds of rolls) which saves the film.
Basically, the saving grace of The Producers is that it is the kind of movie so funny that you will pee yourself.
Did I say the humour was broad? That’s like saying the Pacific Ocean is broad. Expect the broadest humour you can imagine. Jokes come flying one after the other and they smack you upside the head with such a force. It’s like vaudeville has come back from the dead. You almost expect the slide whistle and rim shot after each one.
Besides Lane there is his surprisingly hilarious partner in crime Matthew Broaderick doing a fairly good Gene Wilder impression. There is Will Farrell having a shitload of fun that we have not seen since his SNL days. There is the hysterical Gary Beach and Roger Bart from the original cast and a sweet and sassy Uma Thurman. The cast is having so much fun you just have to join in.
This faithful recreation of the stage experience may not offer anything as a movie but what it does is preserve the magic that is the stage production. It may throw movie audiences who are not comfortable with the Musical Theatre experience for a loop but if you can stand the ridiculousness you will laugh yourself silly. This film is best seen in the cinema so you can laugh along with the rest of the audience.