now I get it

When Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was released earlier this year, a lot of people were unhappy before they even saw the film. My baby brother was one of these people. He said it could not possibly be the same without Gene Wilder. He thought it was wrong to see someone portraying a role that Wilder had characterized so perfectly. I disagreed because I never liked Wilder in that role; his performance always made me feel weirdly embarrassed. And I like the re-adaptation better than the earlier film. So I didn’t quite understand.
That is, until two nights ago, when I watched a clip from the new version of The Producers, in which Matthew Broderick (as Leo Bloom) launched into blue blanket-related hysterics in the scene where he meets Nathan Lane (as Max Bialystock) for the first time.
It’s just wrong. He’s nowhere near as believable as Gene Wilder. Gene Wilder had wonderful hysterics, and he was believable as a mousy accountant even though Wilder (like Broderick) is instantly recognizable. I think that the three good Mel Brooks movies (The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein) were also Wilder’s finest hours, and I love The Producers best of all.
Who are these people imitating Wilder and Zero Mostel, and doing it wrong? Wrong!
I may or may not see the movie. Part of me wants to see what they did with it, and part of me knows I’m not going to like it. I grew up watching The Producers, and the 1968 film has great sentimental meaning to me, and I get the impression that this movie just isn’t going to match it, not in any way. I want to see the dancing number with the little old ladies and their walkers, but can it possibly top Estelle Winwood? The only real improvement I can see so far appears to be Uma Thurman’s legs.
So I feel like I should go apologize to my little brother for not taking him seriously. When someone remakes the favorite movie of your childhood, and recasts the actors who seem irreplaceable, you can’t get past that no matter how good the movie might be. In the case of The Producers, I hear the remake is not that good. Maybe I’ll just watch the 1968 film again.

4 thoughts on “now I get it”

  1. I saw Lane and Broderick in the roles on Broadway and wasn’t impressed with their characterizations, but I thought the additional musical numbers were fun. The woman who played Ulla in the show was amazing though, and I doubt Uma Thurman is going to replace her in my heart.

  2. Brooks’ updating of the plot for the musical made it even better than the plot of the movie, if you can imagine that. I do want to see the movie, but I agree that Zero and Wilder are impossible to beat.

  3. I saw the movie last night, and you’re right in thinking that Matthew Broderick doesn’t compare to Gene Wilder. But I have to admit, there were a couple of moments when I could almost see Zero Mostel coming through in Nathan Lane’s performance – not that he was imitating him, but every so often the homage would appear. I liked Nathan Lane’s take on Bialystock a lot.

  4. I was fortunate enough to see Lane and Broderick on Broadway and loved it — it was different enough from the original that it seemed fresh, yet familiar. But I’m really the updated movie — I love Wilder and Mostel way too much and would just sit there and compare the two the whole entire time!

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