While it’s a little bit difficult to get into at first, The Producers – the film based on Mel Brooks’ popular Broadway musical – proves to be a clever, entertaining experience with goodies for both the eyes and the ears.
The Producers stars Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in the roles they originated in Brooks’ original Broadway production. Lane is hapless, crooked theater producer Max Bialystock, who raises money from little old ladies and seems to invest in nothing but flops. Broderick is Leo Bloom, an accountant who visits Max to fix the books but, in the interim, comes up with an idea for a quick, moneymaking scheme: One could actually make more money producing a Broadway flop than a hit.
It’s this idea that sets the film in motion, and where it really begins to get entertaining. Max and Leo become co-producers, seeking out a script for a play that is absolutely horrendous. What they find is a project called "Springtime for Hitler," which is written by a German Neo Nazi (played hilariously by Will Ferrell) and for which Max and Leo find one of the city’s worst directors (Gary Beach, who won a Tony for the stage version of his role in 2001) to sit at the helm of the play.
As the antics get bigger and the stakes are raised higher, the film really takes off. All of the players are good – including not only Lane and Broderick, but also Uma Thurman (as Ulla), Ferrell, Beach and Roger Bart (as Carmen Ghia) – but it’s really the film’s many musical numbers that really make it worth watching. And, unlike the theater – where, unless you have seats front and center, it’s difficult to see the actor – every movement, motion and expression can be seen and appreciated by every member of the audience.