I have been a fan of Mel Brooks ever since I saw “Young Frankenstein”. The jokes that he uses are full of visual puns and quirks. He shocked the viewing world in ’68 with his, then, raunchy and spicy comedy “The Producers”.
I’ll admit it, I had seen the remake before the original, which probably ruined it for me. It’s impossible to get Nathan Lane out of your head once he’s in there.
The film revolves around two men—Max Bialystock, a broadway producer in need of money; and Leo Bloom, an accountant who unknowingly hatches a master plan. In the remake, they are played by Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick respectively. Both of these actors had experience on broadway, Lane in particular.
Going from that film to the original felt like a slow down in the energy. Brooks wrote the screenplay and produced the remake so it feels like he himself was unhappy with how the original turned out.
Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder are the leading men and they dance their way through this quirky film. Gene Wilder and Brooks collaborated several times and he always seems to steal the spotlight away from his co-actors. Bialystock, played by Mostel, is a huge role to fill and I feel like it isn’t quite filled to the top by Mostel. With the way the screenplay is written and timing that Mostel gives, it gave me the feeling that British comedy actor would have been a better fit for this role than Mostel. Immediately my thoughts went to Tim Curry and then for the rest of the film I was wishing that Curry was delivering Mostel’s line.
The movie has it’s funny parts, certainly. A perfect example is Dick Shawn playing a druggie character, named “L.S.D.”. His lines and scenes are hilarious and bursting with inexplicable weirdness. One scene has him playing castanets and peeling a banana, only to throw it away and suck on one of the castanets in an infant-like manner while laying down to take a nap. Oh, did I mention that he's singing all this time? He really is the best part of “The Producers”.
Surprisingly enough, the plot differs quite drastically from the remake. Some characters are minor when they had been major and vice versa, while some don’t make an appearance at all.
It’s quirky and fun, some-what in a brainless fashion but still enjoyable.
Score: 2 and a half stars out of 4