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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Producers (2005)

Instead of decapitating foes, make everyone laugh their heads off

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by Patrick Ivers, Film Critic
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(2005) Mel Brooks's musical comedy (for which he composed all the music and lyrics as well as wrote the screenplay in collaboration with Thomas Meehan, both of whom appear briefly in the movie), directed by Susan Stroman, was based on his earlier madcap movie and 2001 Broadway stageplay. It's really, really as silly as a stupid cupid in lewd Jewpid, if you know what I mean.

The worst show in town (New York City in the '50s) begins with Funny Boy, a musical based on Shakespeare's Hamlet, and ends with Prisoners of Love. In between the despicable shyster, theatrical producer Max Bialystock (Nathan Lane), a man without conscience, opens the door to timid, neurotic Leo Bloom (Matthew Broderick), a public accountant, come to look over his books; but first Max must play a game with Hold-me Touch-me (one of the elderly ladies he schtups in exchange for "checkies" for his plays) of the virgin milkmaid and the well-hung stable boy. You get the picture.

Except that Leo discovers a discrepancy of $2000 in the accounts. Max pleads for Leo to "Move a few decimal points around … not cheating … charity." Over this suggestion for dishonesty, the two men naturally get into an argument during which Leo becomes hysterical (taking out his scrap of blue security blanket) while Max has a rhetorical conversation with himself: "How do they find me?"

Finally after recovering his equanimity, Leo (who secretly dreams of becoming a producer) in agreeing to hide Max's loss makes another amazing discovery: "Under the right circumstances, a producer could make more money with a flop than he could with a hit."

A surefire failure, Max figures, would require the worst play ever written - Springtime for Hitler (guaranteed to offend all sensibilities, creeds, and religions) by "neo-Nazi nitwit," "Teutonic twit" Franz Liebkind (Will Ferrell) in his German helmet and lederhosen; the worst director - Roger Elizabeth DeBris (Gary Beach) in his Chrysler Building costume, whose mantra is "Keep it gay," conceiving a cast of female stormtroopers in tight black leather with whips at their hips and an upbeat theme of the Nazis winning the war; and the worst actors.

The idea is to raise $2 million and then through creative financing (as we've seen on Wall Street) keep everything that's not earned from the disastrous outrage on the stage; a successful production, on the other hand, must pay off its backers. But Leo, afraid of getting caught and going to jail, returns to Whitehall and Marks where everyone's unhappy; there at his desk among his fellow sorrowful colleagues he has his epiphany: "There is a lot more to me than there is to me." He quits and rushes back to Max for a duet: "We can do it!"

When a luscious Swedish girl, Ulla (Uma Thurman), appears for an audition - performing "When you got it, flaunt it" - Max hires her as a secretary/receptionist with a promise of a role in the play (if not a roll in the hay): "There's always a part for the producer's girlfriend."

After explaining to Leo the principal principle of every producer - "Never put your own money in the show" - Max goes to work "putting his backers on their backs," only to discover that Leo and Ulla have been "askewing each other."

During the auditions for Hitler's part, Franz - reminding everyone of the Siegfried Oath - demonstrates how the Führer must be portrayed with a song in his soul: he gets the part. But just before the show begins as Roger's explaining to Leo, "It's bad luck to say 'good luck' on opening night," Franz breaks his leg; with no understudy, Roger's associate Carmen Ghia makes the case that he's perfect for the part of becoming the next Broadway star.

Certain that everything is in place for the performance to be "shocking, outrageous, insulting" to the audience, the pair of producers wait for the show to be yanked off its planks. The show does go overboard in much the same way as does the movie.

The credits have their own whimsical flare with Will Farrell singing and reminding us: "Don't forget to buy Mein Kampf in paperback." Instead of decapitating his foes, Brooks's philosophy has been to make everyone laugh their heads off.

Also recommended is the original, 1968 Mel Brooks-directed movie with Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2008 Patrick Ivers. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Patrick Ivers can be reached via e-mail at nora's email address at juno. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)