Monday, February 05, 2007

The Producers

The Producers:

Staring: Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick
Director: Susan Stroman


"How can a play which has been hailed and loved by so many people turn into such a mediocre film?" This is the first thing that popped in my mind about 25 minutes into watching this. I’ve never seen the play but I’ve seen the original, and based off of this alone, the original like with most things (besides the Maltese Falcon) is better.

Hopefully most people have seen at least one of the incarnations of the story so as my explanation can be short. Two con-men devise a way to make a bundle off of a theater production flop by making the worst play ever made. There, now that I’m done with that onto my issues with the film.

The film fell completely flat because it was directed like it was a play. Most of the camera techniques were bland, and the acting was what you'd expect in a play.

This of course is not to say that the acting in a play is bad, but that it is a completely different performance an actor is trying to project. Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick both present good stage performances, but very lousy theatrical film performances in this film. Flat, boring, and as if they were projecting to a few hundred people, and not a movie screen. There was no originality in the presentation of the film, sets were what you'd expect from a play, mostly 2 dimensional, Spartan, and uninspired.

One of the major complaints from critics about this film was that it lacked any directorial direction (yes, I realize what I just said). If that was their intention, neither the critics nor audience understood it as such. This might explain why the "biggest" Broadway play barely grossed half its budget, while other modern musicals like Chicago grossed upwards to 7 times that much.

Generally you can tell how a film is filmed, even laymen like me and most other people can. You can tell the techniques used (even subtle ones) compared to say, crummy direct-to-video or other TV-movie schlock like the Sci-fi Channel's original movies. It was almost as if they just set up cameras off stage and filmed a Broadway performance. That's generally not how you want to film 45 million dollar movie, ever. The film wasn't "real" enough to be believable, nor was it "surreal" enough to forgive the lack of "real world" characteristics. The set design and especially the direction was bland as water. You'll find more interesting camera shots in, say, a 1932 film, when cameras were much more limited.

And bland is about as nice of a thing as I can say.

Verdict: **/*****

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