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PCR # 302  (Vol. 7, No. 1)  This edition is for the week of January 1--8, 2006.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"The Producers"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Three stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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Starring: Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman, Gary Beach and Will Ferell
Directed by: Susan Stroman
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 2 hours 14 mins

The story of "The Producers" is a long, strange one. The 1968 film featured the great Zero Mostel, made Gene Wilder a star and won writer/director Mel Brooks an Oscar for his screenplay. In 2001 it opened on Broadway and won 12 Tony Awards, making it the most awarded show in history. Now, the play from the movie about a play is a movie again, with most of the Broadway cast intact. And that cast is what makes it sing!

Max Bialystock (Lane) is a failed producer of Broadway shows. His shows have become such certified flops that next to the sign that reads "Opening Night" is one that reads "Closing Night," ready when needed. Max has lost his back show backers and has reduced himself to wooing elderly women in return for their checks. Max is visited by accountant Leo Bloom (Broderick), who is there to go over the accounts of his last show. In studying the receipts, Bloom discovers a $2,000 error, but agrees to take care of it after Max pleads with him. In an offhanded comment, Leo points out that, in the right circumstances, a producer could make more money with a flop instead of a hit. The wheels turn in Max's head and he is soon convincing Bloom to join him in an elaborate scheme of finding the worst play ever written, raising an enormous sum of money and then keeping the proceeds when the show fails. Wary at first, Bloom decides to join him after being berated by his boss, who accuses him of being late for his toilet break. "I'm not going into the toilet," Leo declares, "I'm going into show business!"

There is so much to enjoy in "The Producers." First and foremost is the great chemistry between Lane and Broderick. Both are long time veterans of the Great White Way with two Tony awards each on their mantels. They play off each other like old friends, which is what Max and Leo quickly become. While Lane has sung before on film (he was the voice of Timon in "The Lion King"), Broderick may surprise those who aren't aware of his theatre roots. In a great bit while describing Leo, Max even points out that he has a very nice voice. As secretary/actress Ula, Thurman comes across as a belter. Beach who, like Lane, won a Tony for his work in the Broadway show, is hilarious as the director who is forced to replace the star on stage and Ferell is quite good in a role that relies on him to both sing and dance. Director Stroman (who also choreographed the film) has also paid tribute to the theatre by casting such stage stars as Brent Barrett, Debra Monk, Karen Ziemba and Andrea Martin. The script, by Brooks and Thomas Meehan, is filled with great double entendres and more then one classic line from "Blazing Saddles." The production numbers are top notch, particularly the "Springtime for Hitler" number that was the centerpiece of both the original film and the Broadway show. And "Little Old Lady Land," featuring Lane and 50 old ladies, complete with walkers, is fun to watch. If there is any fault with the film, it is that the numbers are staged in a way that it looks like they could have just filmed the show and called it a movie. I realize that the majority of the film takes place indoors, but even a similar production like "Chicago" was made into a film that didn't seem like it was confined.

A great opportunity to see theatre history as well as an entertaining way to spend two hours, on a scale of zero to four stars I give "The Producers"  Four stars

This week's movie review of "The Producers" is ©2006 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2005, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.