Much Ado About Nothing Review
William Shakespeare was a writing genius. He really was. Not only were his ideas intriguing for the time period, but how he wrote was just as intriguing. I wonder what prompted this writer to play with words and phrases as much as Shakespeare did, but that is why we love him. His plays have been adapted into movies for many years. There have been some really interesting updates on his stories (West Side Story) and there have been some really poor examples of his work on film (the 1996 Romeo and Juliet film.)
Leave it to none other than Joss Whedon, director of "The Avengers," to lay out some great Shakespeare?
Whedon retells a modern-day version of "Much Ado About Nothing," a comedic play about two pairs of lovers and how their love creates some hilarious, dim-witted situations. Whedon's comedic timing has never been put on better display. Yes, we know Whedon from doing big stuff like "The Avengers," "Firefly," "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" and "Dollhouse." But the guy has incredible comedic timing, there are certain quirks, laughs and tics jam-packed into this whole movie and Whedon hits it every time. The cast includes Amy Acker, Clark Gregg, Nathan Fillion, Reed Diamond, Alexis Denisof, Fran Kranz, Sean Maher, Spencer Treat Clark, and Riki Lindhome; there's tons of Whedon regulars in there and they handle Shakespeare's dialogue with considerable ease. Its lifetimes better than Leonardo DiCaprio or Claire Danes could do back in 1996. Whedon shot the film in black-and-white, which gives the film an elevated style and luminous visuals.
My only gripes are due more on a personal level than a problem rising from the film. Whedon puts together a great adaptation, but as much as I love Shakespeare, I find him hard to follow sometimes. I couldn't help to use SparkNotes as guide through much of this film. When I was in grade school, my school did plays of "Romeo and Juliet" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream," which are two stories I absolutely love. However, I think I got the most out of those stories because of how we told them. People in our play narrated some of the action, so that the audience had somewhat of an idea what was happening and they didn't have spend so much time deciphering Shakespeare's dialogue. "Much Ado About Nothing," suffers from too much deciphering. With all the character motivations and transitions in plot, I'd rather have somebody tell me what's going on, compared to figuring it out myself. But that's just my personal hang-up, not a flaw with the film.
Plus, I always think its goofy when Shakespeare plays take place in modern times. Simply because, lets face it, people don't really talk that way. I am fairly sure people never talked that way. In any time period. The Shakespearean language just comes off goofy while people are driving cars, wearing suits and carrying guns. Had the film taken place during Shakespeare's time, I feel the film would have been better.
My personal gripes aside, nothing could stop Joss Whedon from putting together something truly special. "Much Ado About Nothingm" has an addicting style, great performances and plenty of laugh about. Everything we have grown to love about Whedon is on full display here. For making a movie in a limited time, at his vacation home just weeks after finishing the juggernaut that was "The Avengers," its fascinating Whedon pulled it off at all.
FINAL GRADE: B+