Remakes and reinterpretations of classic works are at the point where they are quite honestly a dime a dozen these days, but every once in a while they bring something new to the table that ultimately reinvigorates this material. "Much Ado About Nothing" takes this classic Shakespearian farce and turns it around with a delightful contemporary feel to it all.
Leonato (Clark Gregg), the governor of Messina, is visited by his friend Don Pedro (Reed Diamond) who is returning from a victorious campaign against his rebellious brother Don John (Sean Maher). Accompanying Don Pedro are two of his officers: Benedick (Alexis Denisof) and Claudio (Fran Kranz). While in Messina, Claudio falls for Leonato's daughter Hero (Jillian Morgese), while Benedick verbally spars with Beatrice (Amy Acker), the governor's niece, despite the fact there is another budding romance between Benedick and Beatrice. The story of sparring lovers Beatrice and Benedick offers a dark, sexy and occasionally absurd view of the intricate game that is love. As matchmaking schemes are put into play and disguises are donned for all involved, loathing and love soon prove to be close cousins as love struggles in the face of deception, tragedy and comedy to unite these two couples once and for all.
Hard to believe this was shot in a mere 12 days at Joss Whedon's house with a bunch of his friends, but this truly was an energetic and off the cuff adaptation of the Bard's work that truly breathes some life into the material. Carefully staged and shot in Whedon's own house, the use of black and white photography and the very careful staging of it all was an incredibly meticulous and precise as the action moved deliberately through the house and the grounds of his estate. A great deal of rehearsal time must have gone into it all as the execution of the material was pulled off with damn near cracker jack timing and the dialogue simply felt like second nature making for some very funny material from an ensemble cast that knew how to execute the words like Shakespeare intended and make sure that we actually had a seriously entertaining good time with it all.
Pulling from his friends and collaborators it was a stellar ensemble from top to bottom as the likes of familiar faces and Whedon regulars Clark Gregg, Fran Kranz and Nathan Fillion all make some memorable appearances but this film is truly anchored by the performances of Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof. As Beatrice and Benedick, Acker and Denisof truly embody the romance, the farce and the energy of the entire film as their bickering/professing their love for one another makes for some highly entertaining comedy that will put a smile on anyone's face.
Special features on this DVD release include two behind the scenes featurettes Much Ado About Making Nothing & Bus Ado About Nothing, the Sigh No More Music Video and two feature length commentary tracks one with director Joss Whedon and another with Whedon and his ensemble.
Rather than make Shakespeare inaccessible and overly high brow, Whedon as this cast just make this material a ridiculous amount of fun. The pure joyous execution of "Much Ado About Nothing" makes for one of the better cinematic experiences this year no matter the size of the screen and is proof positive that you can never underestimate pure unadulterated entertainment.
5 out of 5 stars.