|Clark Gregg as sincere father|
|and straight man--one of|
|the better aspects of the movie.|
Considering its origins (its writer, producer, director), it is bizarrely--bizarrely--humorless.
Clark Gregg does a fine job. Amy Acker is a natural. The first (but not last) mistake comes in casting Alexis Denisof as Benedick when he should have been cast as Don John or the Prince. (Denisof does "Mr. Dangerous" exceedingly well.)
When I first heard that Nathan Fillion was in the movie, I assumed he would play Benedick. After all, Castle could easily be sub-titled, "The Continuing Adventures of Benedick and Beatrice" with no great stretch of the imagination.
More on Fillion later--suffice it to say for now that he exhibits the perfect blend of wit and exuberance that has, in my experience at least, been the hallmark of great Benedicks, such as Branagh and Damian Lewis.
|Damian Lewis and his Beatrice, Sarah Parish, cracking up|
|at their own wedding!|
Maybe it's a Mafia thing.
Although I quite like Whedon's film noir Mafia look, it is all wrong for Much Ado About Nothing. Only guileless people with innocent souls would fall for Don John's guff. Much Ado About Nothing is about happy people doing dumb things when an unhappy guy tries to take revenge. It is NOT about unhappy, dumb people becoming even more unhappy and dumb when an unhappy guy tries to take revenge. (It would be interesting to watch Whedon's Much Ado with the sound off; if I didn't know I was watching a great Shakespearean comedy, would I think I was watching Hamlet? Or King Lear?)
The only scenes in the movie where I laughed out loud were Nathan Fillion's. As far as I can tell (and it is hard to tell), Whedon was aiming for a kind of film noir comedy with a Double Indemnity double entendre flavor. Maybe it's all that Castle work but Nathan Fillion is the only one who actually pulls it off. He delivers Dogberry's pompous political police lines straight-faced with just a hint of something off-kilter. Tom Lenk offers excellent back-up.
Actually, I think Nathan Fillion is quite simply a very fine actor.
In any case, there's a reason Branagh--not Whedon--did Thor. Leave Shakespeare to the people who speak it as plainly as they discuss laundry. All the cleverness in the world can't make up for a lack of natural dialog--as Whedon well knows.