It’s not entirely clear how it came to be – whether through divine misdirection, willful ignorance, genuine lack of appreciation, or a fourth thing – that it was only just now that I’ve come to watch this gregarious triumph. Mel Brooks, a man who’s produced more than his fair sharei of sublime cinemaii and has been an integral part of even more,iii is here again in the credits of The Producersiv a remake of a Broadway show that was itself a remake of a 1968 film. That this film dug up the bones of such an well-aged production (at least compared to Hollywood today and their umpteen Spiderman remakes) shows how culturally far-flung 2005 really is from 2016.v
So it came to be that during my first extended period of single-parenting (4 days!), inspired by the “ultimate Producer’s movie” and keen to see whether I was just making up correlations with the capitalised “P” or whether there was really something to the reference, I plunked myself on the couch for 134 minutes.vi Needless to say, the “Intentional P?” debate hasn’t quite been settled, but any questions as to Mr. Brooks’ inestimable talents have certainly been put to rest.vii That this delectable morsel had only “51%” on RT also served to reset my benchmark for success according to that aggregated worm pool. From now on, the closer to 51%, the more likely I am to watch it!
Quotes like this are why :
Leo Bloom: Actors are not animals! They’re human beings!
Max Bialystock: They are ? Have you ever eaten with one ?
Take out “actors” and replace it with “homeless,” “Africans,” or “transmayos” and Max’s question sticks a hot poker in the eye of “modern civilisation” and its “human rights.” A useful heuristic to weed out the ass-talkers would be exactly this : “Mr. Koward, please, tell me about your first-hand experience with vagrants, left-behinds, and obeasts and what it was about that first-hand experience that led you to believe that they’re even worth feeding, much less clothing, sheltering, medicating, educating, or providing any of the other “essential” factors you thinly claim qualifies them for a pro gratis “living wages.” “ It’s a free question.
The basic premise of the movie is that Max Bialystock (Nathan Lane) is a shystery Broadway producer who teams up with the bookish Leo Bloom (Matthew Broderick) to make a show that will be well-funded but a commercial disaster, thus freeing up the difference in capital for trips to Rio de Janeiro. They scour the scores of available scripts and uncover “Springtime For Hitler,” a tribute to the leader of the Third Reich as written by an honest-to-goodness neo-nazi (Will Ferrell). The fetchingly flexible Ulla (Uma Therman)viii is tossed in for good measure. What a pleasure!
For the aspiring Producers, whether it’s the cowardly Leo or perhaps even yourself, Max has some timeless advice that you’ll never see on the “Top 10” lists of the sites organised to placate you and your unworthy ilk, be it the Propaganda Ministry Formerly Known As Gawker Media or your competition :
Max Bialystock: The two cardinal rules of producing. One : Never put your own money in the show.
Leo Bloom: And two ?
Max Bialystock: NEVER PUT YOUR OWN MONEY IN THE SHOW!
Life lessons, charming soft shoe and tap, a hilarious musical score, and Uma doing the splits… Sign here, please.
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- It’s an expression, mkay ? For all you thieves calling productive men “thieves,” which is to say reenacting the oldest market scene in the book, your fair share of this world is exactly what you take. What you think you’re worth doesn’t begin to enter into it. So no, that you spent $30k a year on university doesn’t make you too good to get your boss’ drycleaning or to be his on-the-side fuckdoll. No one gives a shit whether you thought you were signing up for “this” or not. You’re here. You claim to be “independent.” Deal with it.↩
- Spaceballs and Robin Hood : Men in Tights, particularly the latter, were among my favourites as a boy. ↩
- Eg. Young Frankenstein. ↩
- 2005, starring a silver-tongued Nathan Lane, a mousy Matthew Broderick, a slutty Uma Thurman, and a neo-nazi Will Ferrell.↩
- Much like 1994 was several cultural light years from 2005. Eleven years is a coon’s age in computer times.↩
- Not all at once, obviously. What am I, a couch potato ? Do you know how fucking hard it is to sit still for more than an hour ? ↩
- Though let’s hope it’s still some year before Mel himself, who turns 90 this week, is put to rest!↩
- In her mid-30s, as a physical specimen and despite already being a mother of two, Uma’s stunningly in her prime. A testament to hard work and smart cocksucking. ↩