Starring Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker and Clark Gregg
As a species, we have a tendency to make a big deal out of nothing all. Sometimes, we do this because we don’t have enough going on in our own lives and need to fill it with something. While at other times, we exaggerate the issues in our lives to protect ourselves by effective putting up a smokescreen around us to hide what we are really feeling. And we have been doing this for ages now. We were even doing this back in Shakespeare’s day. In fact, he wrote a play about it called MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. To this day, this remains one of his most performed and most loved works and with good reason. Not only is it charmingly and devilishly funny but its main theme still holds very true for very many.
The latest film incarnation of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING comes to us from what most would consider an unlikely source. After giving the world THE AVENGERS, the most successful superhero film of all time, director, Joss Whedon went in an entirely different direction for his follow up. After helming the massive Marvel movie, he opted to take it down a few thousand notches with a quaint, black and white Shakespearean adaptation that was shot over two weeks in his very own house with some of his very good friends. The result is an extremely intimate and endearing experience that highlights the enduring charm of the play and celebrates it for establishing one of the most reliable comedic tropes in history – that being misunderstanding and misdirection that eventually makes way for revelation when all involved finally end up on the same page on the same time.
For those unfamiliar with the premise of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, I will be brief. Many have gathered for a party and it is decided during this party that the noble Claudio (Fran Kranz) will marry the lovely Hero (Jillian Morgese). Meanwhile, Claudio closest confidant, Benedick (Alexis Denisof) and Hero’s cousin Beatrice (Amy Acker) are at each other’s throats about how much they loathe each other and the act of love itself. And so, with love in the air, Claudio and Hero enlist the help of others to trick Benedick and Beatrice into falling in love with each other. Then, just when it seems that love will conquer all, a plot is hatched to break Claudio and Hero up that almost ruins everything. It’s got comedy, drama, duels, basically everything you need for a proper Shakespearean farce.
Not that anyone was challenging him but Whedon proves without any doubt that he can easily master any genre thrown at him, be it with an unlimited budget or in his own backyard. My only complaint about his MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING is the lack of chemistry between Benedick and Beatrice. Individually, their sharp tongues are impressive but perhaps too biting because when they finally come together, it seems a tad forced. All the same, there is still plenty of charm, whimsy and delectable prose to make the film a winning experiment, proving once again the eternal genius of Shakespeare’s vision.