This is Nazis Gone Wild! week. The Producers is currently available on instant Netflix.
PASS: The Producers (2005) – Rated PG-13 for sexual humor and references.
“Washed-up Broadway producer Max Bialystock (Nathan Lane) schemes with neurotic accountant Leo Bloom (Matthew Broderick) in Mel Brooks musical. The men plan to raise a ton of money for a play that is sure to be a flop and then keep the extra dough. They pick “Springtime for Hitler,” written by a Nazi (Will Ferrell), and hire an offbeat star (Uma Thurman) and a freakish director. But no one can predict the audiences reaction on opening night.”
“Move a few decimal points around – you can do it. You are an accountant.”
“Stand still. How can I shoot you if you keep moving?”
This is not the classic 1968 movie with Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel. This is the movie version of the play based on the original movie about producing a play.
Interestingly, the 1968 original may be the origination of the phrase “creative accounting”.
Matthew Broderick is likable and talented but he does not do manic very well. Gene Wilder (Leo in the original movie) built a career on manic and conveys it quite a bit better. My wife is not going to be pleased that I have rejected another Matthew Broderick film. I should probably review Godzilla and make it a hat trick.
Like Broderick, Nathan Lane is likable and talented. The two of them are certainly watchable. Will Ferrell appears to have quite a fun time as Nazi Franz Liebkind. For that matter everyone seems to have fun and run with their role.
Therein lies the problem – there seems to be little direction of the actors. Everyone seems to be giving a play performance which is a little jarring in a film. Sometimes this can work but here it does not quite gel right.
Uma Thurman and Will Ferrell were the only leads not in the original play. Franz Liebkin in the play was portrayed by Brad Oscar. He appears in the movie as the cabdriver.
Many of the setpieces are quite well done. The old lady routine is quite a sight gag and of course there is the classic Springtime for Hitler.
I do like the image of rows and rows of identical accountants with visors using old-fashioned adding machines singing “Unhappy”. Unfortunately almost the same scenario is carried out much better by Monty Python in The Meaning of Life.
Unfortunately the movie just seems to go on forever. The original movie ran a tight 88 minutes. The embellishments added to this lengthen it to an almost tedious 134 minutes.
While I cannot recommend this as a watch, it is enjoyable but you must have patience. If you are a fan of musicals then certainly you should watch this as there are precious few musicals these days. If you do watch then stay through the end credits for a final musical number.
People Watch: Cameos abound here. Mel Brooks is the voice of Tom the Cat and the voice that says “Dont be stupid, be a smartie. Come and join the Nazi party” (a line from his 1983 single, To Be or Not to Be). Jon Lovitz appears as Mr. Marks. Michael McKean (Spinal Tap) is a prison trustee and Andrea Martin is a hoot as Kiss-Me-Feel-Me.