September 8, 2012

SHOWBUZZDAILY @ TORONTO: “Much Ado About Nothing”

One of the most charming things about Joss Whedon’s new film of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, unveiled today at the Toronto Film Festival, is that it’s not out to prove anything. Its actors are garbed in modern dress, and there are occasional nods to updating (very possibly as much for budget reasons as anything else, as Whedon indicated at the Q&A was the case with the film’s lovely black & white photography by Jay Hunter), but it doesn’t poke its finger into your face with its “concept” like Baz Luhrmann’s ROMEO & JULIET or Ralph Fiennes’ CORIOLANUS. It has the ease, instead, of what it apparently was: a gathering of wondrously talented friends to kick back and have some fun while declaiming Shakespeare’s verse.

The play is as you remember, its main storyline the root of all modern rom-com: Benedek (Alexis Denisof) and Beatrice (Amy Acker) are so busy cleverly insulting each other to realize they’re actually in love, and only some scheming by their friends can open their eyes. Meanwhile, in the somewhat darker world of what the Bard probably didn’t call his B story, the evil Don John (Sean Maher) convinces Claudio (Fran Krantz) that the virtuous Hero (Jillian Morgese) has lost her maidenhead. Spoiler Alert: it all works out in the end.

The actors seem to be having a collective busman’s holiday, and their enthusiasm is infectious. While Denisof and Acker may not erase memories of Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson in Branagh’s much larger-scale version, they bring a contemporary snap to the roles, aided by Whedon’s gift for the unobtrusive, hilarious grace note (the far-off bark of a dog gets one of the movie’s biggest laughs).

One of the great things about being Joss Whedon is the stock company of actors that have formed around him, and apart from those mentioned, familiar faces like Reed Diamond, Clark Gregg and Tom Lenk. Best of all, perhaps, is Nathan Fillion as the constable Dogberry, here transformed into the funniest, most foolish cop this side of POLICE SQUAD!

This MUCH ADO, which Whedon shot in just 12 days after the mammoth undertaking of THE AVENGERS, has just enough ado, a breezy, likable, romantic 108 minutes that’s a reminder (pace ANNA KARENINA) that a classic doesn’t have to feel like homework.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."