Do “Much Ado”

(Yes, I sometimes write about things that have nothing to do with work whatsoever. In other news, it’s summer.) 

poster for joss whedon's "much ado about nothing"

Yes, the movie is shot in black and white. No, you won’t notice.

Went to see Joss Whedon’s “Much Ado About Nothing” last night. I highly recommend it – even, and perhaps especially if you weren’t an English major. I thought Ken Branagh brought the Bard to life 20 years ago with an energy and speed that was a refreshing change. But this is MUCH better (although nothing scares me to death, to this day, more than Branagh’s “Dead Again”*).

Although, as a lit. major, I can’t help but think what I did the first time around:

1) Benedick and Beatrice are fun. The rest of them are boh-ring. No really, if it weren’t Nathan “I am an ass” Fillion and Tom Lenk, I’d have wanted to fast-forward through the whole Dogberry/Verges parts. Or go for a potty break (since it’s not out on video yet).
2) Hero. Good lord girl, even in the 17th century you could have done better than that sap.
3) Claudio – an epic lesson for the ages to menfolk: do your own damn wooing.
4) Ah yes, the Bard, where there are few good women but those that die at least once. And no good mothers but those that are definitely dead.

So why watch? Because Beatrice and Benedick have spark, and spar. Also Beatrice gives Benedick shit. And it’s fabulous because unlike the other plays, the girl actually doesn’t “lose” or get “dressed” down for telling the boy to take a hike. Perhaps giving the guy grief and living to tell the tale was particularly resonant for me given how the whole plot hinges on a girl’s besmirched honor. Think I’m being a wet blanket? Think again, it’s what women still die for around the planet. The idea that a woman should die rather than live with dishonor isn’t alien in some of the places I’ve lived. So Beatrice’s spunk makes me cheer, inordinately.

But the genius really is to set the play in a modern day setting, with people who do everything – eat, drink, dress, walk, talk, shrug, groom, hold hands, grimace, massive-double-eye-roll…. – like we do. It makes Elizabethan English more accessible, and the fact that they aren’t speaking words like we do a secondary consideration.

And then there’s that wonderful cover of “Sigh no more.” Which turns out to be scored by Whedon. Really, is there no end to the man’s talent? Were it not for the fact that he’s a nice, well-adjusted kinda guy with good manners (which I can attest to because he once came in for an interview at the radio station where I worked and every thought he was lovely), I might have to be grumpy about the mention of him.

Go watch “Much Ado…” You’ll love it.

* Actually, “Sixth Sense” left me unable to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night – for years. But I digress. 

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