This weekend, Joss Whedon’s small, sweet Much Ado About Nothing debuted in limited release and will work its way into your hearts and more screens on June 21st. Shot over a few days at Whedon’s house, this featherweight adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies assembles many of our favorite Whedon irregulars: Fillion, Acker, Kranz, Denisof, Lenk, Maher, etc. And for that alone, for Fillion trying to Big Man In A Little Coat his way into Tom Lenk’s jacket alone, I’d encourage you to see it. It’s not a bad movie. It’s a fine movie. It’s obvious the director and his cast had a fantastic time making it and, seemingly, an even more enjoyable time promoting it.
But several months after having seen it, I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t linger. It’s not the kind of film that gloms onto you and you won’t find yourself replaying sequences in your head for the pure, shivery taste of the language or the visual delights. The comedy is good. Fillion may be the best Dogberry I’ve ever seen. But the tricky balance of tragedy (a girl cruelly jilted on her wedding day and disowned by her father) falls flat. And that’s okay! It’s a sweet film, a fine film. The problem, however, is that a near perfect production of Much Ado About Nothing already exists and its sunny, boisterous existence casts a long shadow.
I’m an enormous Whedon fan. You people know this. But I’m also a massive David Tennant and Catherine Tate fan and that didn’t stop me from being completely underwhelmed by their recent stage production of “Much Ado.” Because, listen, Imma you Whedonites finish, but Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 production of Much Ado About Nothing is one of the best Shakespearean film adaptations of all time. Dare I say the best? And, of course, just because an amazing film, book or play exists, that doesn’t mean someone else oughtn’t attempt it. I do wish, however, that Whedon had chosen a different comedy. “Twelfth Night” or “As You Like It,” perhaps. Of course, given his well-established love for strong, feisty female leads, Whedon would be attracted to Beatrice. But I would have rather seen Whedon’s take on Viola or Rosiland instead. Am I saying you shouldn’t see Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing? Of course not. See it. See it for Nathan Fillion and for Clark Gregg. Enjoy Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon’s frothy version of “Sigh No More.” But then come home and watch the Branagh movie. It’ll pour Tuscan sunshine into your heart. Yes, even Keanu. It’s simply a better film. Here are * Reasons Why.
1. The Love Scenes
2. The Costumes
3. The Comedy
4. The Tragedy
5. The Fist Pumps
7. Because Sure Shakespeare Looks Fine In Black And White
8. But It Looks Better In Color
9. Because The Americans Do Just Fine
10. YES, Even Keanu
11. Because Both Beatrice And Emma Are Goddesses
12. Because Before Kate Beckinsale Was A Spray-Tanned Action Babe, She Was Cute As A Button
13. Because That’s Emma Thompson’s Mom On The Right
14. The Choreography Is Better
15. Because It Will Convert All Your Sounds Of Woe
16. Into Hey