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The Producers

2006-07-12 07:17


Nathan Lane is a failed broadway producer who fools around with old ladies who he cons into giving him money for plays he never produces. When an abused tax accountant (Matthew Broderick) explains how he could make more money with a flop than with a hit, he persuades him to co-produce a flop. But the flop - Springtime for Hitler - is a surprise comedy hit. What a disaster!


Those who haven't seen the original 1968 classic The Producers, do yourself a favour and see it. The one good thing about revolting remakes is that the originals are more likely to find their way into your video shop in DVD format, or onto Turner Classic Movies as reruns - as this hilarious comedy did a few months ago.

The original opens with one of the most humorously cringe-inducing sex scenes ever filmed. In it, the failed producer pleases an old lady by playing role-play games with her, and in the course of it persuades her to give him a cheque. He does the same with the next old lady, and we learn he has a collection of their pictures in a cupboard.

Next thing we know, he's interrupted by a visit from a tax accountant, who thinks he's really into the old birds... it's pretty ham-fisted. But with its old fashioned sound, klanky dialogue, and completely unPC treatment of the old ladies, Mel Brooks' The Producers somehow pulls it off.

The remake relies on long song and dance sequences, cuts a whole lot of the old lady parts, and while sticking to the same old script, draws out all the lousy bits, and even adds bad ones, including a ridiculous scene in which lines of identical old ladies do impossibly athletic things with walking frames.

Uma Thurman plays Olga. In the original, Olga (the talentless but hot wannabee nymphomaniac actress the producers hire just to have her around) was a silly sideline character. In the new version, they try to update her as a superwoman, capable of doing her job and theirs, while still starring in the show. Mistake!

We are capable of seeing how stupid the men are. Do you have to tell us? Can't you show us instead? And just because it's Uma Thurman doesn't make it interesting. For this role, any actron would have done just as well.

The presence of big name actors in all the main roles doesn't help keep you focussed on the story, neither does the inclusion of countless extra musical song and dance routines that extend the movie to a jaw-droppingly boring 132 minutes. That's more than two hours of movie hell.

Nothing, fortunately, can stop the few minutes taken up by the actual broadway show from being utterly hilarious. Nothing can make the sight of scantily dressed Nazis goose stepping while singing a chorus of "Springtime for Hitler and Germany / Winter for Poland and France" not be laugh out loud funny. It always will be. That's what the one star this movie got is for.

Sadly, in the very next scene, the 2005 remake ruins the way the producers find out the bad news that they're a success. This tragic moment should be one of the comedic highpoints of the movie. Instead, it flops... so hard you'd almost think they were trying to make sure it would! Perhaps they were, when they changed the setting from the theatre bar to the producers' office, just so Uma and Matthew could bore us to tears with an oafish love scene.

Don't walk out of this one - don't walk in the in the first place. Get hold of the original instead. For all its faults (mainly sillyness-related), it won't let you down on the laughs.

- Jean Barker

The original Mel Brooks version (The Producers, 1968) was almost as much of a surprise success as the Broadway play it was about. This remake is, unsurprisingly, a complete flop.

Joan Wood 2006/03/15 2:43 PM
GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT This is NOT a remake of the 1968 movie, but a filmed version of the Broadway Musical (which was in turn adapted by Mel Brooks from his 1968 movie). Please don't forget this fact! This is the musical version of THE PRODUCERS brought to the screen. Otherwise you would have to review My Fair Lady as a remake of Pygmalion. You catch my drift Miss Barker? RENT
Braam Muller 2006/03/15 10:29 PM
Will wait and see Haven't seen this movie yet, but I did see the Broadway musical version (and also the movie). It was extremely funny and clever. Ms Barker obviously was not aware that a stage musical version (with its own rules and limits) was created by Mr Brooks himself. The movie version of the musical is meant for those of us who wanted and could not afford a plane ticket overseas to see the play in New York or London. I can't wait to relive the experience - even if it is on film. Watch Barbarian Invasions on DStv. It is veryh funny and yet poignant at the same time.
Andre Jardim 2006/05/09 2:14 PM
The Producers - Exquisite camp-broadway! Oh dear, Mrs Barker - it's a broadway musical on film; what were you expecting - Moulin Rouge 2? Don't pay any attention to this very critical movie critic's review - The Producers is definitely worth watching for a good guffaw. Admittedly it won't appeal to everyone, as musicals are wont to do. I remember watching it in a London cinema when it came out here, and a few younger people walked out halfway through, but those of us who remained thoroughly enjoyed it. "Keep it Gay!" was hilarious with it's Village People cast feel and Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick were brilliantly cast. I am not a Matthew Broderick fan by a longshot - but it's clear this role as a geeky accountant suited Matthew's rather dull personality and nerdy-boy looks perfectly. Uma Thurman is one of my favourite actresses and she proves her versatility as one by playing the rather cerebrally-challenged, very leggy, blonde Olga with exquisite perfection. Give it a watch, especially if you enjoy comedic musicals.
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