Fans of producer Mel Brooks (Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Spaceballs) should know what to expect from this lover of OTT comedy. The jokes are often in bad taste, the characters one-dimensional caricatures and the plot completely unrealistic; but most of his movies are absolutely hilarious.
This film adaptation of Brooks’s Tony-award-winning Broadway musical tells the story of Max Bialystock (Nathan Lane, Birdcage) and Leo Bloom (Matthew Broderick), who come up with a plan to embezzle money by raising funds for a musical that they will produce, knowing that the musical will fail. They seek out the worst script they can find by neo-Nazi Franz Liebkind (Will Ferrell, Bewitched) and hire the worst director, Roger De Bris (Gary Beach, Man of the Century), in the hopes of creating a show that won’t make it past opening night.
The music in The Producers is lively and the lyrics suitably un-PC. The cast romp their way through the film singing and dancing and the choreography is not bad, considering most of the main cast are not trained dancers. Think a mixture of the old school glam of a Gene Kelly/Fred Astaire movie, a touch of the outrageousness of Moulin Rouge and the sappiness of a Doris Day musical. It’s the latter that holds The Producers back from being a great film: After the initial opening scene, the momentum is slow, there are too many attempts to be sentimental and the score could do without the ballads.
Luckily the superb cast carries the film through even it most tiresome moments. Broderick is perhaps the best he’s been since 1986’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Lane is smarmy but likeable as Bialystock. Uma Thurman is gorgeous as the Swedish showgirl Ulla, and Beach and Roger Bart (The Stepford Wives) are highly entertaining as the camp gay couple. But the show stealer is undoubtedly Ferrell, whose absurd accent and crazy antics had us in stitches.
The Producers is an entertaining film that requires very little effort of its viewer. For two hours of laughs, song and dance that won’t leave any annoying tunes stuck in your head, this is a pretty safe bet.