Seen: At the AMC/Loew's at Boston Common, for a free preview screening.
I'm way behind on blogging because I've been visiting friends in Seattle, sorry dudes. But anyway I saw Much Ado About Nothing a little while ago. Joss Whedon's adaptation of Shakespeare's comedic battle of the sexes moves the action to a current-day mansion (in fact the director's own house) but maintains most of the same dialogue. The story concerns a get together of rich people who play at mistaken identities, nascent romance, classist snobbery, faked deaths, and general tomfoolery during a big house party. Beatrice (Amy Acker) and Benedick (Alexis Denisof) have been matching wits for years but never considered a romantic relationship until their friends and family conspire to trick them into dating. Meanwhile young Claudio boyishly romances Beatrice's cousin Hero (Jillian Morgese) but their love is threatened by the machinations of the evil Don John (Sean Maher). Comedy BUT ALSO DRAMA ensues.
I've never been a big Shakespeare person- I've seen a few play and film adaptations and read a few of the major ones in high school, but I wouldn't consider myself a fan. But I knew that the killer cast Whedon had assembled in his house during his vacation to make a movie just for fun would give me plenty of reasons to check out his version of Much Ado About Nothing. Though it took me a few minutes to get the old-timey vocabulary and iambic pentameter in my ear, I easily fell into the swing of things as the action got underway. It's funny and well-paced, combining timeless witty banter with hilarious and up-to-date visual gags. The production is understated, but Whedon makes good use of the resources at his disposal, taking advantage of his house's nooks and crannies and beautiful backyard, and throwing in some cool tunes and cute costumes. The use of black and white gave it a slightly DIY feel to me, which I liked, since that added to the intimacy of the presentation.
Of course we're all here for the cast, and I totally get that, because the cast is GREAT. I'm so happy Whedon has finally found a great leading role for Amy Acker, since she's fantastic but rarely a star. She has a lot of funny physical moments and shines with energy. Alexis Denisof is also excellent but I felt not quite as comfortable as Acker with the dialogue (he does get the funniest scene though). While Fran Kranz, Sean Maher, Riki Lindhome (a nice gender-bent Conrade), and company are great, the standout co-stars are definitely Clark Gregg, who is utterly adorable, and Nathan Fillion, whose well-meaning, doofusy Dogberry is probably the most entertaining character. The script is fairly true to the original (I'm led to understand) but Whedon throws in some lady-positive nods while maintaining the balance of super-silly and melodramatic elements. Overall it's just a pleasant, enjoyable film, hurray!
Pair This Movie With: I don't know you guys, more Shakespeare? I'm so uninformed on these things. Or I kinda felt like revisiting The Cabin in the Woods for some of the actors/Whedonness.