"I want to
be a Producer"
After a string of failures producer Max Bialystock (Lane)
has lost every ounce of dignity to the point that he has to romance old
ladies to get money to fund his next play. When the bank sends accountant
Leo Bloom (Broderick) to check his records, Leo tells him that he would
actually make more money having an enormous flop than a hit. This instantly
gives Max an idea. He and Leo will produce sure-fire disaster and walk away
with two million dollars.
First a movie, then a musical and now a movie again, Mel Brooks'
'The Producers' has transformed from the 1968 original.
The Tony award-winning show comes to the silver screen and
takes you back to the heyday of the Hollywood musical. Adapted from his
own comedy classic, the genius Mel Brooks has proved that he as gifted at
writing songs as he is jokes. Transforming the original Zero Mostel and
Gene Wilder starrer into an award winning Broadway musical is no easy task
but 'The Producers' was already part way there.
With the 'Springtime for Hitler' musical as the backbone,
Brooks wrote nine more songs to make this the perfect stage musical. After
a sell-out run on Broadway, the musical opened around the world to even
more critical acclaim and growing audiences, so it was inevitable that it
would return to the silver screen.
The two actors that brought all the acclaim to the production
return for the big screen adaptation. Nathan Lane steps into Zero Mostel's
big shoes as the down on his luck Broadway producer Max Bialystock who has
to sweet talk old ladies to raise funds for his usually disastrous plays.
If anyone could breath new life into this classic character it would be
Nathan Lane. Already an acclaimed musical performer, it is when Max is at
his most sleazy when the character comes alive as old ladies swoon to his
every corny line. Mathew Broderick has the unenviable task of taking on
a role made famous by one of the greatest comedic actors of all time, Gene
Wilder. The panic stricken, security blanket loving accountant was a brilliant
Wilder creation and Broderick does his best to make the part his own. He
dances and sings superbly but when it comes to having an episode of sheer
panic he doesn't quite have the manic ability of Wilder. It is also hard
for Broderick fans to see 'Ferris Bueller' acting like a totally uncool
accountant with no self-confidence, who can't face the world.
Supporting the two Broadways stars are two actors new to musical
theatre. Uma Thurman makes her first foray into song and dance and she proves
again that she is an actress that can turn her talents to anything. As the
Swedish secretary Ulla, she is the object of Max and Leo's lust, who just
wants to please. This is a role that you can tell that Uma really enjoyed
playing. While we have seen Will Ferrell sing and dance before during his
comedic career, it is as Neo-Nazi, Adolf Hitler loving playwright Franz
Liebkind that he really gets the chance to shine. This is a role that he
really sinks his teeth into, making the character as hilarious as he should
be. Add to these two more outstanding performances from Gary Beach and Roger
Bart as the overly camp director Roger De Bris and his assistant Carmen
Ghia and you have the making of a classic musical.
'The Producers' is a complete adaptation of the stage musical
and bears more of a resemblance to the musicals of the 40, 50s and 60s and
is the better for it. Director Susan Stroman and her creative team makes
you feel like you are in a theatre and not a cinema, giving you the chance
to see what it was like to see Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick on Broadway.
Its old fashioned approach is quite refreshing and makes you hark back to
the days of Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as Lane
and Broderick evoke memories of these musical greats.
With some great songs, extremely funny set pieces and brilliant
performances from the cast, 'The Producers' is the best way to see the stage
musical for those of you who haven't seen chance to see Lane and Broderick
on Broadway. The film is also delight for musical aficionados but there
will be arguments between fans of the 1968 original and the musical version.
This is still a Mel Brooks production nevertheless and however much Max
Bialystock and Leo Bloom would like to try, this is not going to be a monster
PICTURE & SOUND
Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1, the
movie is presented well showing the quality of the production design.
Commentary with director Susan Stroman
This is a strange commentary that feels more like she is reading from
a pre-prepared script than reacting and commenting on the actual film
live. Because of this is bombards you with information about adapting
the awarding winning stage production to the big screen. She tells you
who every single person is, if they are stage actors and if they appeared
in the original Broadway show. The sets, locations and setting the film
in 1959 is also discussed. While you do feel like you are been informed
about the film but with the lack of spontaneity means that the commentary
lacks any real passion.
Outtakes (15.14 mins)
Watch Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick fall about laughing so many times
that you wonder how they actually got the movie made. We also see the
various different versions of Max telling his old lady investors that
he loves them. These are extremely funny and complement the film extremely
Deleted Scenes (19.38 mins)
Entitled 'King of Broadway', 'Hide & Seek', 'I wannabe a Producer', 'In
old Bavana', 'Der guten tag hop-clop (reprise), 'Along came Baily (with
Vignettes), 'That face (reprise)' and 'Astor Bar' these deleted or extended
suffer from the lack of a commentary track or introduction to tell you
why they were removed.
Analysis of a scene: 'I wannabe a Producer' (16.06 mins)
Producer/co-screenwriter/composer/lyricist Mel Brooks, director Susan
Stroman, producer Jonathan Sangel, production designer Mark Friedberg,
costume designer William Ivey Long, theatrical light designers Jules Fisher
and Peggy Eisenhauer and star Matthew Broderick take you behind the scenes
of the most elaborate song and dance set piece in the movie. From initial
rehearsal, through set and costume design and onto filming the actual
scene, this is an interesting featurette that show you how much work goes
into a song and dance number in a movie musical.
Previews of 'Rent', 'Fun with Dick and Jane' and 'The Pink Panther'
The DVD package for the big screen musical version of 'The Producers'
is a bit of a mixed bag. The featurette is informative and the outtakes
and deleted scenes are good but the commentary is a little strange, as
it seems like director Susan Stroman is reading from a script. It would
have been far better if Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick could have done
one instead. This aside, fans of the movie should be pleased with the
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