The Producers (Universal Pictures, PG-13)

Neo-Nazis and gay stereotypes will always be funny.

The Producers has been produced a lot. Originating as a movie, then becoming a smash Broadway hit, and now being released as movie once again, the show has a long history of production. The original movie was in 1968 and starred Zero Mostel as Max Bialystock and Gene Wilder as Leo Bloom. The story was inherently interesting as it followed two men concocting a plan to create the biggest flop on Broadway—Springtime for Hitler—in order to fleece its financial backers out of their hard-earned money.

The musical—written by the comedic genius Mel Brooks—made a name for itself thanks to Brooks’ keen talent for writing offbeat musical numbers. “Little Old Ladyland,” “Keep It Gay,” and “Prisoners of Love” all showed how Brooks could make fun out of any situation.

Then in 2001, Brooks brought his story to the big stage on Broadway, casting Nathan Lane as Bialystock and Matthew Broderick as Bloom. Picking up 12 Tony awards, Brooks proved that his comedic talents had improved with age.

Reprising their Broadway roles in the 2005 movie version, Lane and Broderick—along with Gary Beach as the flamboyant Roger De Bris, and Roger Bart as the even more flamboyant Carmen Ghia—shine in their roles they made popular onstage.

Casting the ever-funny Will Farrell as Franz Liebkind, the playwright of Springtime for Hitler, may have been a stroke of genius, as Farrell runs away with the role, giving the film needed campiness mixed with his own flavor of comedy. There were, in fact, a number of surprising cameos throughout the film—including SNL’s Jon Lovitz, SCTV’s Andrea Martin, Queer Eye’s Jai Rodriguez, and Michael McKean—who all turned in impressive performances and added life to the production.

Perhaps the only casting that frustrated me was Uma Thurman as the sexy Ulla. There were rumors floating around that Broderick had enticed his Stepford Wives costar Nicole Kidman with the role, but when she dropped out, Thurman jumped at the chance. Arguably, Thurman is one of the sexiest actresses in all of Tinseltown; however, in this role, she fell flat. There was more sexual tension between Lane and Broderick then there was between Broderick and Thurman. While casting the sexpot Thurman in the lead role may have been a vain attempt to appease the heterosexual men who will have to go to this musical with their girlfriends, it left me unsatisfied.

With the thought “Is Hollywood out of ideas?” running through my head, I do think that this production of the legendary musical did come off surprisingly well. Diehard fans may nit-pick the movie to death, but one thing remains painfully clear: Neo-Nazis and gay stereotypes will always be funny.

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