Up until earlier today, I hadn’t thought much about Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing. At least not since I first saw it, way back when, at some point in the early 2000’s. Back then it struck me as a damn fine piece of work—well staged, lively and joyful, and quite brilliantly performed—but I had never once revisited it since, or even remembered it too well. That is until a Redditor posted a picture from the movie in the r/OldSchoolCool subreddit, at which point my brain did a backflip or two.
The picture was this:
Firstly: My sincere apologies, but you’re now all pregnant. Guys, that includes you too. It’s okay. There’s no shame in it.
Secondly: One of the backflips my brain did made a sound that sounded like this: ‘What?! Keanu and Denzel were in this? How the hell did I not remember that?’
The impact of the picture was also compounded by the fact that I had completely forgotten that Keanu and Denzel were ever in a movie together. It turns out that Much Ado is to this day the only time that that has happened. To which I say: WHY?!
Because, look, one is great:
And the other is too:
Why isn’t that every movie ever made?
Who the fuck is pitching movies in Hollywood that they haven’t pitched a buddy cop movie with these two yet? What kind of awful, pig-shit grade cocaine are they all doing that they can’t hammer out a script for that project? You wouldn’t even need a script. Shane Black could scribble something on the back of some toilet paper while he’s taking a dump in the bathroom of a Taco Bell and if you put these two in it it’d be gold.
The second backflip my brain made is when it all came rushing back, and I realised I must’ve just been suppressing things. You see, it’s not really possible to live your life, day to day, stressing about bills and alarms and deadlines, all the while carrying the knowledge of just how much sexy there is in Much Ado About Nothing. Because aside from Keanu and Denzel (Kenzel? Deanu? Keazel?), the movie also has in it a luminous, never-sharper, never-more-Emma-Thompson Emma Thompson:
And a young, angelic Kate Beckinsale, back before she acquired a taste for werewolf blood and latex:
Sometimes, they all hang out together and do this:
Which really isn’t fair now is it?
And just in case you thought that was the full extent of things, rest assured, it isn’t. Because the movie keeps you on your toes. Yeah, you’ll be watching Much Ado About Nothing, basking in all that radiant glory, swept up in the tidal wave of easy charisma, when suddenly, BOOM!—surprise Michael Keaton:
He does that a lot in this film. He does that a lot in a lot of films. But here he does it so well. I’m not gonna say it’s Peak Keaton, but it’s not far off.
Greasy grimacing Keaton might not be the statuesque beauty of Kenzel, but I know for a fact that there’s a sizeable proportion of people out there who don’t mind looking at exactly that. Keanu knows it, too. He even gives it a shot himself:
Doesn’t quite have the same effect, but good on him for trying. He’s better at this:
That bloke in the background there, almost eclipsed entirely by the axis of magnificence before him, is Robert Sean Leonard. At the risk of sounding like Troy McClure, you might remember him from such features as Dead Poets Society, or such formulaic series as House. In this movie, he uses his upper crust pretty boy looks to good use, and while he can’t quite compete with what’s going on around him because, well—
—he nevertheless acquits himself quite well.
Even Kenneth Branagh, the film’s director, he of perennially avuncular appearance, gets a bit of a handsome thing going on here.
He looks like he’s about to have a change of heart about helping the governor hunt down Zorro, but he makes it work.
But really, while those guys do good work, we know what this movie is really about.
BRIAN FUCKING BLESSED!
No, wait. I meant: The sheer atomic power of D.E.N.Z.E.L.
The ageless serenity of Keanu.
The cherubic grace of Beckinsale.
And most importantly, Emma ThompSURPRISE KEATON!
Emma Thompson’s Beatrice, fielding a question from her uncle Leonato about when she will find a husband with a, ‘Not till god make men of some other metal than earth. What woman wouldn’t be distressed, being lorded over by a handful of dust?’
It’s a happy day when a person discovers something deep and significant about themselves. For example, I now know what my sexuality is. Sarcastic Emma Thompson In A Tree, With Grapes.
Or is it Translucent Emma Thompson On A Swing Superimposed Over Some Flowers?
Nah it’s definitely Sarcastic Emma Thompson In A Tree, With Grapes.
N.B. Yes I know Black Panther exists. But also: