"Marred by an Anachronistic Lewd Scene"
What You Need To Know:
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING is a black-and-white version of Shakespeare’s comedy, directed by Joss Whedon from MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS. The plot is complex but boils down to this: The evil brother of a Spanish prince concocts a plot to malign the reputation of the bride of one of the prince’s top soldiers. The soldier believes the lie, calling off the wedding. A Christian friar, however, convinces the bride’s father that she’s innocent of being unfaithful. The friar devises a plot to show the soldier he’s been a fool, and a bumbling constable uncovers the villain’s plot. Meanwhile, one of the prince’s other soldiers, a committed bachelor, is tricked into wooing a female with whom he likes to exchange verbal barbs.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING is a witty, amusing version of Shakespeare’s famous play. Best of all, the play’s Christian worldview shines through the comedy as the friar tries to save the wedding. However, a clothed sex scene between one of the villain’s henchman and the heroine’s maid spoils the fun. Thus, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.
(CC, BB, Pa, L, V, SS, N, A, M) Strong Christian worldview with strong moral elements in a Shakespeare adaptation about exposing lies and protecting a woman’s chastity, with a positive priest figure, but marred by some gratuitous sexual content; zero obscenities and four or five light profanities, a couple of which might rather be considered appeals to God; woman asks man to kill a bad guy, but he refuses; depicted fornication between a clothed couple with some lewd pelvic thrusting under the clothes (the woman is a maid wearing the heroine’s gown and is mistaken for the heroine, which causes the plot problem), sensual kissing between villain and his female aide, and implied fornication in a scene near the beginning as a man wakes up next to a sleeping woman when you don’t know who the characters are; upper male nudity in one or two scenes; some alcohol use; no smoking or drugs; and, lying, deceit, false accusation, jealousy, and a ruse is used to punish a groom who didn’t believe his bride-to-be when she was falsely accused but all’s well that ends well.
Despite a gratuitous, anachronistic sex scene, the Christian worldview of William Shakespeare still comes across in Director Joss Whedon’s (FIREFLY and MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS) sophisticated take on the comedy MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. However, the Christian worldview could have been even stronger, and the movie more accessible to a broader audience, without Whedon’s more crude additions to the play.
The basic story in the play that drives the main plot is the courtship of a young soldier, Claudio, for the hand of Hero, the young daughter of the governor of Messina in Sicily. The governor is hosting a Spanish prince, Don Pedro, and his top officers, including Claudio, at his villa. The governor accepts Claudio’s marriage proposal to his daughter, Hero.
While Claudio and Don Pedro’s retinue wait for the wedding to occur, Don Pedro and Hero hatch a plan to get her father’s cousin, the lovely Beatrice, and one of Don Pedro’s other men, the committed bachelor Benedick, together. Their reverse psychology on the couple seems to be working well. In fact, it provides much amusement for everyone, including the audience.
However, Don Pedro’s jealous brother, Don John, decides to ruin the wedding between Claudio and Hero by casting aspersions on Hero’s chastity. His plan succeeds all too well. Only the actions of a Christian friar and a bumbling constable can restore Hero’s reputation and save the wedding.
Shot in black and white, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING is a very witty, amusing version of Shakespeare’s famous play. Best of all, the play’s Christian worldview shines through the comedy as Hero’s father and the friar try to save her reputation. The Christian friar convinces Hero’s father she hasn’t been unfaithful to Claudio, and he devises a plot to show Claudio he’s been a fool. Also, although the bumbling constable provides much of the comedy during the play’s second half, his motives are positive, and he helps expose John’s villainous plot against Hero and Claudio. The constable is brilliantly played by Nathan Fillion, who starred in Director Joss Whedon’s science fiction TV series FIREFLY and the FIREFLY movie, SERENITY. Interestingly, several other of the actors in the movie have worked on Whedon’s science fiction and fantasy shows on TV. This familiarity between the cast and the director serves MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING very well.
That said, Whedon has inserted a couple modern sexual twists into the play. For example, there is some sensuality between the villain and his female aide in one scene (in the play, the aide is male). The worst moment, however, comes when Hero’s maid, Margaret, and the villain’s male aide, Borachio, appear to have intercourse while Margaret is wearing one of Hero’s nightgowns. In the play, Borachio’s plan was to appear on Hero’s balcony with Margaret so that Hero’s fiancé and Don Pedro would see it from a distance and assume Hero had been unfaithful. In addition, the balcony scene isn’t actually written into the play. You only hear what happens from some dialogue afterwards.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING would be much better served, and reach a wider audience, without the lewd scene between the villain’s henchman and the maid. A single scene is seldom the reason MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for a movie. Sadly, such is the case with this version of Shakespeare’s delightful comedy, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.