Title: Much Ado About Nothing
Fix: Modern Shakespearean Comedy
In Joss Whedon's modern take on the Shakespearean comedy, Claudio's love for the beautiful Hero makes him a target of his friend Benedick's mockery.
Joss Whedon’s adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing is set in modern times—at Joss Whedon’s California home, in fact—and performed by modern actors—Joss Whedon’s friends—but uses straight-from-the-text iambic pentameter—all Bard.
Amy Acker as Beatrice
Amy’s typically a secondary character, so it’s great to see her stand out as the lead. She’s a lovely, Beatrice, if not quite as powerful as, say, Emma Thompson in the role.
Alexis Denisof as Benedick
Alexis is a little too good at playing the stubborn, hot-headed, narcissistic Benedick. I’m sure he’s very nice in person, and probably not nearly as much of a douche as the role requires, but I’m just sayin’. He’s really good at it.
Clark Gregg as Leonato
Y’all know that I’m a big fan of Clark Gregg’s (see also: An Open Letter from an Agent Coulson Fangirl). Admittedly, I only really know him as Agent Coulson; I didn’t watch The New Adventures of Old Christine, and I’ve not seen him in many of his other movie roles. That said, I want to see him in more things, and I do love him as Leonato. He plays a great father: stern, loving and a little crazy.
Reed Diamond as Don Pedro
Reed is another of those actors who always seem to get sidelined to more famous names. Although Don Pedro isn’t one of the leads in Much Ado About Nothing, it’s fun to see Reed playing something other than the sidekick cop.
Sean Maher as Don John
Sean, like Alexis, is a little too good at playing the smarmy womanizing Don John. Sean was so sweet and naive in the role of Simon on Firefly, so seeing him portray a character who’s nearly a polar opposite of that is a treat. The guy’s got a serious range!
Fran Kranz as Claudio
Fran plays a great Claudio, and he’s even kind of swoony in the role of the lovestruck fool.
Plus, he did this for the film:
Which just makes me smile.
Riki Lindhome as Conrade
Conrade’s been gender-bent in this adaptation, and all the better for it. Riki brings to the movie a sly sexuality that actually adds a lot to the role, instead of being just a henchman.
Ashley Johnson as Margaret
Margaret, the sassy maid, is a great—if a little understated—role for Ashley. Her looks are deceptively sweet, which makes it easy to underestimate Margaret as just another cute face. (Spoiler alert: She's not.)
Nathan Fillion as Dogberry
Nathan’s comedic timing and facial expressions are larger than life, and even when he’s only in a few scenes—as in the case of the ridiculous Dogberry—he steals the show.
Tom Lenk as Verges
I adore Tom Lenk. I want to take him home and put him on a shelf and bring him down at parties for people to ooh and ahh over. (I’m sure he’d love hearing me say that …) Even with Verges’ silly mustache, Tom’s still a peach.
Couch-Sharing Capability: Depends
Shakespeare, in the original Shakespearean, is not everyone’s cup of tea.* The fact that I was an English major in college, and one of my favorite courses was Intro to Shakespeare, might make me a bit biased toward the more positive side of the spectrum. However, this movie has multiple things going for it for people who aren’t big on the Bard:
- The cast. I mean, really. Their combined amount of ridiculous talent makes even the densest of language approachable. (Need proof? You can ask my economics major husband, who, even though he didn’t understand every word—but, honestly, who does?—really enjoyed this film.)
- The modern setting. Think Romeo + Juliet minus Baz Luhrmann.
- Joss Whedon.
*Didn’t even mean to go there, but I’m glad I did.
Recommended Level of Inebriation: Post-Viewing
Shakespeare is hard enough to understand after having had a good night’s sleep and a large cup of coffee (or three). I’m thinking that imbibing while watching this movie might make it nearly incomprehensible. There is drinking in the movie, however, which might inspire you to drink post-movie. So stock up prior.
Use of Your Netflix Subscription: Excellent
Much Ado About Nothing was released on a limited run, and only in those few theaters for a short while. So if you were interested in seeing it then, but missed it, now’s your chance to check it out. Shakespeare + Joss Whedon’s wit + the charm of a full cast of super talented people (+ the promise of drinking after) = a great night on the couch.