The Flower was wildly enthusiastic about seeing this film. What? No, “William who? It’s Joss Whedon, dad!”
Sigh. Parental fail.
The Flower took a shine to “Buffy” and “Angel”, and really loved Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers, so, yeah, this was a must-see, given that the cast consists primarily (or entirely) of Whedon-regulars.
She couldn’t get into “Firefly”, though. She is, somehow, not a nerd.
This is the (slightly abridged) “Much Ado About Nothing” filmed in 12 days and shot, you know, at Whedon’s house in Brentwood, and using money that would otherwise have been used to take a vacation celebrating Whedon’s 20th anniversary. (That suggestion made by Mrs. Whedon, Kai Cole, who must surely be in the running for “Best Wife Ever”.)
Like most Shakespeare plays it took me about 20 minutes to get used to the patter, and I was sweating a little that the kids were having trouble following along. But about that point, it starts getting hilarious. Really, really, really funny.
Slapstick, cutting wit, clever wordplay, just what you’d expect from Shakespeare, but also delightfully juxtaposed in modern settings. The story gets a little dark toward the end (before rebouding, ‘cause it’s a “comedy” and not a “tragedy”) but mostly it’s just non-stop funny lovingly shot in black-and-white with a gorgeous cast of great actors.
It’s both got a “let’s put on a show” feel and “God damn, we are some talented and beautiful mofos” simultaneously.
The two leads, Beatrice and Benedick are played by Amy Acker and Alex Denisof. I didn’t watch much “Angel” and none of the “Dollhouse” so I didn’t really know her. Denisof played the nebbishy Wesley on “Buffy”. The Flower mocked me for not recognizing him, but he is quite the actor, playing the swaggering, em, Sicilian soldier (in that Shakesperean way) quite convincingly. And at 47, he can move pretty damn well, too.
The secondary couple, Hero and Claudio, played by the delicately beautiful newcomer Jillian Morgese and Fran Kranz (the stoner from Cabin In The Woods). There’s actually a kind of Pride and Prejudice vibe to this story which makes me wonder how far back the good-and-sweet-lovers contrasting with the nasty-and-cutting-lovers trope goes.
A ways, I’d guess.
Nathon Fillon plays the awesomely named Dogberry, a sort of dimwitted cop with a fragile sense of honor.
The actress that was driving me nuts was the ophidian (The Flower’s description) Riki Lindhome, who plays Conrade. The intimate confrere of the piece’s villain Don John, Whedon has cast her as a female and Don John’s lover.
But I just couldn’t remember that she is “Garfunkel” to Katie “Oates” Micucci in the gag girl group “Garfunkel and Oates”. She does an excellent job with her small role, by the way.
As does everyone, really. This seems to have been that rare combination of “labor of love” and “bunch of friends getting together having fun”. The former gets you Reds, while the latter gets you all those awful Hal Needham movies with Burt Reynolds and Dom Deluise.
Unqualified and enthusiastic endorsements from The Flower and The Boy, and me for that matter.