Much Ado About Nothing – 3 out of 5
As if filming The Avengers wasn’t enough for Joss Whedon, he decided to hang out with his friends and film an adaptation of the William Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing. Then, while doing so, proved that the already annoying fans of Whedon can be even more so as they will turn their noses to the skies with smug superiority since their god Whedon did a work from the man who dudes like to name drop when they are trying to nail smart ladies—and we’re talking about Reddit levels of smug superiority…he also proved that no matter how talented of a writer/director a person can be, they are still capable of making their movies look cheap.
|"Can I come out now? My toes are wrinkly...and I have to pee...wait...scratch |
that last one."
Okay, so Much Ado About Nothing is an old tale and chances are you had to read it during the Shakespeare section in your Literature course in high school. Basically, the play is a romcom made only a few years before it was made a requirement to put hat-trying-on scenes and Lisa Kudrow in ALL romantic comedies (yes, I said a few years. Kudrow is an inhuman immortal—and, yes, she IS in every romcom…sometimes even playing just inanimate pieces of furniture). The story is basically about Beatrice (Amy Acker) and Benedick (Alexis Denisof) and how they are in love (but at the same time, kinda hate each other) and the wacky tale about them getting together.
Since this is an adaptation of Shakespeare, it’s almost legally required for critics to rave about it because Shakespeare has become synonymous with brilliance. So, if you make an adaptation of his work and do your best to stick to the source material without venturing too far away from it or really add anything new to it beyond the idea that it’s a “modern retelling”—meaning, it’s set in the present day but they still read the Shakespearian way—critics are pretty much going to line up to offer you their daughters’ hand for marriage to the person who made it. Meanwhile, films like Scotland, PA that actually do something unique with Billy Shakespeare’s work go almost unnoticed (seriously though, check out that movie. Its take on Macbeth is awesome!). In case you haven’t guessed it, I wasn’t blown away by Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing like how other people were.
|"I'll see you chumps later. I gots to hang with The Avengers."|
To put it simply, MAAN lacked any real creativity, felt extremely lazy and, most importantly, just looked cheap. According to the internet, Whedon filmed this movie over a short period of time while filming The Avengers and it’s very obvious from the end product. Nothing about this film looks refined or feathered out. Even with some minor changes made from the play, the movie feels like Joss just picked up a copy of the play from Barnes & Noble, called some of his buddies and just decided to fuck around in front of the camera for a bit. From the moment the film started to the end, this one felt like a student film—and not even a student film that was made out of the student’s blood, sweat and tears but a student film that feels like the student spent all semester partying and then, realizing that his final project is due on Monday, decided to grab a copy of a random Shakespeare play from the library and filmed his buddies reading the lines…and then made it black and white so it, you know, “looks deep and stuff.”
|A sepia tone was originally considered but thought even that was pushing too|
I already know I’m going to get some knee-jerk reactions from some readers of this review and they’ll call me an uncultured booger (although, I’m sure their comments will be a little more colorful…and by colorful, I mean extremely vulgar) because I didn’t instantly love this film and swoon over it. The reality is the movie isn’t bad. Like the stage play, it is very humorous and silly but, like the stage play, it’s just like the fucking stage play!!! The only difference is the fact we get to see Agent Coulson and Captain Malcolm Reynolds read Old William’s lines in modern day suits (and without a single pair of pantaloons in sight). In that respect, the film is okay but it doesn’t cover the fact it looked phoned-in and completely devoid of imagination to me. It also didn’t help that a lot of the acting is atrocious (especially from Alexis Denisof, who spends the entire movie looking like a community college drama major who was forced into that major by his overacting parents).
|Nathan Fillion, seen here trying to figure out the best way to tell the man next to him he|
makes shitty cup of coffee.
Yes, parts of the movie worked for me—like many of the actors are great (like Nathan Filliion) and the spirit of the play is there. However, the biggest problem I had with Much Ado About Nothing is the fact it had absolutely nothing special going on for it. Just reading Shakespeare in your backyard and removing all color from the film doesn’t change the fact that I could have seen pretty much the exact same thing at the local theatre…and they probably would have had period costumes to boot...but that depends on the theatre's budget, I guess. In the end, while the film is pretty average, the presence of having modern attire in a modern home while reading Bill Shakespeare’s lines did little to convey that this was nothing but a quickly put together affair that is destined (due to the source material) to vacuum up praise without having to put much effort into it.