New York, 1959. Max Bialystock was once the king of Broadway, but now all his shows close on opening night. Things turn around when he's visited by the neurotic accountant Leo Bloom, who proposes a scheme tailor-made for producers who can only make flops: raise far more money than you need, then make sure the show is despised. No one will be interested in it, so you can pocket the surplus. To this end, they produce a musical called Springtime for Hitler written by escaped Nazi Franz Liebken. Then they get the insanely flamboyant Roger De Bris to direct. Finally, they hire as a lead actress the loopy Swedish bombshell Ulla (whose last name has over 15 syllables). As opening night draws near, what can go wrong? Well, there's no accounting for taste...Written by
After Max (Nathan Lane) and Leo (Matthew Broderick) do Der Guten Tag Hop Clop with Franz (Will Ferrell), Max tries to pull open the door. When it doesn't open, he shouts, "We're trapped!" This is an inside joke from the play's run in England. One night, a stage hand had locked the door. When Nathan Lane tried it, he realized it was locked and shouted out, "We're trapped! Trapped like rats with a crazy Nazi!" A stage hand then went up and unlocked the door and they got out. See more »
When Leo and Ulla are dancing in the office, the paintbrush sticking out of the paint bucket comes and goes between shots. See more »
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Showgirls from Bloom's dream sequence during the accounting office number dance around some of the closing credits. See more »
A film which is a remake of a play which is a remake of a film... Only Mel Brooks would dare
What's the deal with directors who remake movies and get angry when anyone calls it a remake? ("It's not a remake, it's a re-IMAGINING!") Whatever. Not here. "The Producers" (2005) is a hands-down, unapologetic, knock-down, dragout REMAKE. And a fine one at that. Not just scenes, but sets, costumes, actors' intonations, and the overall feeling is just like watching the 1968 classic. I can picture both Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane intently studying the reels of Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel to get pinpoint accuracy.
If it's so true to the original then why, you ask, would anyone bother watching the remake?
For the same reason we rush out to buy the digitally remastered versions of our favorites. We want to see them shiny and new, the way we've never seen them before but without destroying the original charm. Here we have writer/director Mel Brooks after 40 more years of experience and maturity, doing it again for a new generation, yet having the humility to keep it the same as it was for the old generation. Imagine going to your favorite band's reunion tour and having the thrill of seeing/hearing them sound exactly the way they did decades ago but now with a stage 5x the size and all the fun stuff that they never had the chance to do before.
What's that? Never saw the original "Producers"? Even better. Here you have the opportunity to see a classic, but with crisp, modern production standards. And with some crazy showtunes that were never there the first time around. My guess is that Mel always wanted this to have more music, like his later classics, "Blazing Saddles""History of the World", "High Anxiety", etc. But with "The Producers" being his directoral debut in '68 he toned it down a bit. Here we get the absurdly flamboyant musical he always wanted.
Actually there are 2 big changes to the original, both of which are so perfect I can't believe I went all these years not missing them. The first is the expanded role of "Ulla" (played by Uma Thurman) who is perfect as the ditzy Swedish bombshell. The second is Will Ferrell as the Franz the closet Nazi. In both of these cases, the characters pop right out of the screen. Will's song "Der Guten Tag Hop Clop," complete with choreographed pigeons, had me howling.
And that brings me to the biggest reason why you'd want to see this remake, aside from the songs, the dancing and choreography is EXCELLENT. Folks, this isn't just a movie with some crazy songs and actors flailing for laughs. It has some great dance numbers with nice moves had by all.
All of this has the effect of making "The Producers" (2005) more like the extravagant musical comedies that made Mel famous in the 70s. This remake got everything right. I have to say, compared to other successful directors who now sit in their ivory towers disparaging their early work and swearing they'll never do that again, Mel's still the same as he ever was, but even more so. Keep em coming, sir!
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