Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Producers

That's gotta be the best musical I've ever seen. But not for the reasons you think.

The Producers is...an odd film. One of Mel Brooks' earliest comedy films, before he really hit his stride with other movies we will look at this week, focusing on the subsequent parody and genius breakdown of everybody's favorite topic. Nazism. Hooray! But Mel knew how to do it and do it well. A washed out musical producer teams up with a fragile and immasculated accountant who gives a rather confusing and yet logical idea of how a musical that bombs big time can garner more money than a hit. You have to watch the scene to try and comprehend the full scope of the idea, because I could barely make heads or tails of it. Which leads to them finding the most flawless musical bomb in human history, "Springtime For Hitler", and thus production begins. It has been awhile since I've seen this movie, the last time I saw it I was in high school and I enjoyed the humor and parody, but I think I enjoyed it even more now. Zero Mostel is a brilliant, slimy, swindling man in this movie and my God is it beautiful. He is enjoying every last minute of it and plays this to perfection. And then we have Gene Wilder. Oh Gene, I miss you. He never ceased to make me laugh, and delivers one of his most neurotic, crazed, and frantically energized performances and I just have to say, thank you Mel. Thank you so much for bringing Gene into your productions, he really made these movies beyond great for me. And surprisingly this movie holds one of the most inspirational and triumphant moments in cinema, and it barely lasts for maybe 2 minutes but it really lifted me up! And now for the parody, now I totally get Mel's standpoint on it, and I know fully well I am nowhere near intelligent enough to discuss parody on such a touchy subject matter. And honestly I'm surprised recently people had to enforce the idea that nazis are bad, that blew my mind that such a statement had to be enforced and repeated, it's kinda depressing we live in a world where people still don't exactly mind following an ideology that caused the deaths of over 6 million people. Laughter at nazis cannot bring justice to the people that died, but it can tarnish their image and strength and bring them down, and truthfully I can't argue that. It's not American History X where the movie almost romanticizes being a neo-nazi or Life Is Beautiful where it is an utter and complete slap in the face of every single last one of those people that were in a concentration camp, it parodies the nazi party in a musical. Could you take anybody who is a nazi seriously after that? It tarnishes and rips and burns their reputation and stance in history through a ridiculous opening number. Comedy is controversial, comedy is a global way of breaking down barriers and addressing problems, all comedy stems from misery. Mel Brooks could make fun of nazis but nobody else really can, why? Well it takes someone far smarter and well read than me to explain it, so go see Lindsay Ellis once again, this woman seriously has taught me more than any film school could. Her video essay on The Producers is not only worth your time, but explains everything that I simply cannot. But I'm not here to discuss comedy and nazis, I'm here to tell you if it is a good movie and it really is. The comedy, while not the endless punches of Blazing Saddles, or the well paced and clever jokes of Young Frankenstein, is still funny especially with Gene Wilder on screen, and the story while odd is still engaging and entertaining, it's a really good movie. But tomorrow we look at quite possibly my favorite Mel Brooks' movie, Blazing Saddles!

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