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Not quite a Bialystock & Bloom production, but no triumph either
on 13 August 2006
The remake of The Producers isn't quite the catastrophe it's been painted, though it's still a long way from a success. Some of its problems can be traced to the stage show - Mel Brooks' musical score is still thin despite much improved orchestration and, though toned down from his deeply irritating stage performance, Matthew Broderick misjudges things quite badly more often than not, while there's no excuse for flattening 'Springtime For Hitler' by padding it out to three times its length (indeed, this remake clocks in at three-quarters of an hour longer than the original). Some problems are unique to the film version: certainly if you're one of the many wondering why some people find Will Ferrell funny, you'll find no answer here in his terrible performance, while cutting the 'King of Broadway' number (to be found among the deleted scenes on the DVD) seems a misjudgement as it's one of the funnier and better staged numbers.
Nathan Lane does well enough as Bialystock, although he's given a little too much rope to be at his best, Uma Thurman is better than expected and even Susan Strohman's direction isn't as bad as it's been made out, far more cinematic than her critics claim although it doesn't entirely escape the feeling that the only reason there isn't a fourth wall on screen is because there wasn't one in the theatre. Still, the 'I Want to Be a Producer' production number is an impressive throwback to some of the lesser MGM musicals, and the theatricality of 'That Face' works surprisingly well. It's certainly better than the screen versions of many Broadway musicals churned out in the 60s or 70s, but the tighter-paced and much better scripted original needn't worry about it stealing its thunder.
Decent extras include 19 minutes of deleted scenes, a 15-minute blooper reel and short about the 'I Want to be a Producer' number, though Susan Strohman's commentary doesn't exactly command your attention.