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In 1968 it was a movie. In 2001 it became a musical. Now it's a movie again? Yes, and there's actually good reason to return The Producers to the screen. The original film, though intermittently inspired, was slow and often boring, and its homophobic, misogynistic humor no longer plays well, if it ever did. The musical, on the other hand, breathes with life and joy. It takes the same outsized characters and, rather than allowing their manic energy to stall, catapults them into large-scale Broadway production numbers, including showgirls, old ladies dancing with their walkers, and a passel of animatronic pigeons. As failed producer Max Bialystock, Nathan Lane is a wonder, and Will Ferrell spazzes his way through a hilarious Franz Liebkind, the demented Nazi author of the worst play ever written. But there are flaws: As repressed accountant Leo Bloom, Matthew Broderick can't come close to matching Gene Wilder's tightly wound insanity, and the last half-hour, which introduces pointless scenes and songs, is a serious drag.

Now playing at numerous local theaters.


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