The Producers (2005)

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Released 2-May-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Dolby Digital Trailer
Audio Commentary-Susan Stroman (Director)
Outtakes
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Analysis Of A Scene: "I Wanna Be A Producer"
Trailer-Rent, Fun With Dick And Jane, The Pink Panther
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 128:51 (Case: 134)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (81:06) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Susan Stroman
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Nathan Lane
Matthew Broderick
Uma Thurman
Will Ferrell
Gary Beach
Roger Bart
Michael McKean
Eileen Essell
David Huddleston
Debra Monk
Andrea Martin
Jon Lovitz
Bryn Dowling
Case ?
RPI ? Music Mel Brooks


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Hindi
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    In 2001, having not had a hit since the 1970s, Mel Brooks found success, not with film nor television, but surprisingly on stage by producing a Broadway musical version of his 1968 comedy, The Producers. While I remain a huge fan of Brooks' original 1968 non-musical movie, the recent movie-musical The Producers (2005) is the latest in a series of disappointing, post-Chicago movie musicals.

    There seems to have been a little bit of a revival in film musicals, following the critical and commercial success of Rob Marshall's sparkling film version of Chicago. 2004 saw the release of the most expensive independent film ever made, the lavish spectacle Phantom of the Opera, and a few months ago a film version of Rent made a brief appearance at movie theatres. The Producers (2005) is the latest post-Chicago movie musical to arrive on DVD, and is also the latest post-Chicago disappointment.

    The basic story of The Producers (2005) remains much the same as the original 1968 film (which won Brooks an Oscar for his script), and the 2001 Tony winning musical: The ruthless and slightly sleazy Broadway Impresario, Max Bialystock (Nathan Lane) has produced a series of flops, requiring the lovable rogue to now raise investment funds by romancing rich old ladies.

    When the extremely nervous, shy, and innocently naive Accountant Leo Bloom (Matthew Broderick) turns up to look over Max's cooked books, he notices that Max raised slightly more money than was needed to stage his last flop. In mentioning this in passing, Leo inadvertently advises Max of an illegal way in which Max could make a fortune on Broadway with a flop, by raising more money than needed to stage it. No investor will want to examine the books for a flop, so Max will get to keep the difference.

    Leo, who has held a long-time secret desire to be a Broadway Producer, is reluctantly recruited into Max's scheme. The two of them then set out to find the "worst musical ever written" and the "worst director" to ensure its failure.

    Leo and Max discover a truly awful revisionist Nazi musical tribute to Der Fuhrer, entitled Springtime for Hitler. After securing the rights from the show's zany Nazi-in-hiding author, Franz Liebkind (Will Ferrell), Leo and Max hire the happily campy cross-dressing director Roger De Bris (Gary Beach), who with his hysteric "common-law-assistant" Carmen Ghia (Roger Bart), believe the key to Springtime for Hitler's success will be to "Keep It Gay".

    Leo and Max also hire blonde bombshell and wannabe chorus girl Ulla (Uma Thurman), as their secretary-receptionist. This introduces the romantic element of the story, as the girl-shy Leo quickly finds himself attracted to Ulla, and fortunately for him the feeling is mutual.

    Sadly, for this film version, Mel Brooks passed the directing reins over to Susan Stroman, the director and choreographer of the original stage musical. This was a grave mistake. Stroman has never directed a movie before, and I even began to wonder if she had even seen a movie before. Stroman does not seem to understand the difference between directing for stage and directing for film. The Producers really needed to be reconceptualized for the screen. For example, Stroman's theatrically staged dances, Mark Weisberg's obviously artificial sets, and William Ivey Long's bright and exaggerated costumes were all wonderful on stage - but this is a movie!

    This error in approach is compounded by the two leading actors, who have each played their roles over 300 times on Broadway. The very talented, Tony-winning Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick disappoint with their screen performances. Their performances both often display a tired, over-rehearsed quality, with exaggerated gestures that belong on the stage only.

    Lane and Broderick (in particular) also suffer terribly if one compares them to the incredible, original 1968 comedy duo of Zero Mostel as Max Bialystock and Gene Wilder as Leo Bloom.

    Indeed, it is two film actors who were not part of the Broadway production that steal the show in this version: Uma Thurman as the Swedish va va va voom Ulla, and Will Ferrell, as the crazy Nazi playwright Franz Liebkind.

    Sadly, The Producers (2005) is merely a filmed version of the popular Tony Award-winning musical, which is still happily running on Broadway. (Further information about the current Broadway production can be found here).

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Transfer Quality

Video

    While the image is occasionally a little grainy, the transfer is generally good.

    The transfer is presented in a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.40:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    Surprisingly, some of the film's scenes appear slightly out-of-focus. I find this odd as the film has two very experienced cinematographers, Charles Minsky and John Bailey. Apart from these moments, the image is reasonably sharp throughout. The black level is great. There are very few shadowy scenes, as the film is largely set on brightly lit soundstages, with slightly surreal sets. But in the very occasionally shadowy moment, the shadow detail is good, such as in the dark auditorium at 86:59.

    The colour is magnificent, with a palette of well saturated hues, and accurate skin tones.

    While there appeared to be some minor pixelization in some scenes, such as during some of the lavish show pieces, there were no real problems with MPEG artefacts. There are also no problems with aliasing.

    Film artefacts appear throughout this movie, but most are small white flecks. Occasionally some slight edge enhancement is noticeable.

    English, English for the Hearing Impaired, and Hindi subtitles are present, and the English subtitles are accurate. Subtitles are also included for the song lyrics.

    This is a Dual Layer disc, with the layer change placed at 81:08. The feature is divided into 20 chapters.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Fortunately the quality of the sound is great - well recorded, and clear throughout.

    The audio tracks on offer are: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), and English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

    The film uses a combination of pre-recorded and 'live' vocals recorded on set with boom mikes. Despite this challenge, the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio has no problems with dialogue quality nor audio sync.

    As a musical, obviously the music is important. I must say that Brooks' musical numbers, ranging from the new additions from the 2001 musical to the catchy tunes, such as Springtime for Hitler, from the original 1968 film, are all very clever and fun. Indeed, Brooks' work has the wit and charm of a successful Broadway songwriter and lyricist. As a composer he also cleverly pays tribute to musicals of past (especially those from the 1950s), and obviously has a great understanding and knowledge of musical theatre.

    The surround presence and activity mainly takes the form of the score being piped to the rears. Although the surround sound mix is a little front-heavy, the rear speakers are used effectively to help carry the score throughout and provide suitable ambience, such as the crowd applause at 91:40.

    The subwoofer is never really called upon, but then again, I wasn't expecting a strong LFE track.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are a few genuine and interesting extras.

Menu

    A very simple menu with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Forced anti-piracy commercial

    This annoying advertisement appears again.

Audio Commentary

    Susan Stroman (Director) provides a rather theatrical, screen-specific commentary that often sounds tightly scripted. After a while her annoyingly nasally NY voice becomes bearable, as she identifies many of the film's actors and locations. Perhaps understandably she appears to discuss the original Broadway show more than the film throughout.

Outtakes

    About 15 minutes of 'gag-reel' outtakes from the film, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital stereo audio. Considering the comedy talent working on the film, most of it is quite unfunny.

Deleted Scenes

    There are eight deleted scenes:

Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Analysis Of A Scene

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo audio, this is a detailed look behind the scenes at one of the big musical numbers from the film - I Wanna Be A Producer. We see the rehearsals for both song and dance, and have a quick  look at the staging and costumes.

Trailers

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Producers (2005) was recently released on DVD in Region 1, and from what I can tell our versions look much the same. Ours is also identical with the R2 (UK) version.

Summary

    The Producers (2005) is a little disappointing, and a missed opportunity.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is also very good.

    The extras are genuine and interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Good review, BRV -- thanks - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)