PG-13 (sexuality, brief drug use); 110 min.
In Shakespeares day, nothing was a double entendre, and a sexual one at that. And noting was a sexual innuendo, not to mention a pun on nothing.
So when the Bard titled his comedy Much Ado About Nothing, the man was joking about sex.
The sexiness moves front and center in Joss Whedons black-and-white production of Much Ado, a winking comedy with dark underpinnings and some of Shakespeares most wicked wordplay.
Whedon rounded up members of his TV repertory company veterans of Buffy and Angel and Dollhouse and Firefly and filmed the play in and around his rambling Southern California home.
Reed Diamond is Don Pedro, leading his entourage to a visit with Leonato (Clark Gregg). Young, headstrong Claudio (Fran Kranz) is instantly smitten with Leonatos daughter, Hero (Jillian Morgese). But hit-it-and-quit-it trooper Benedick (Alexis Denisof) is less impressed. Hes too busy bickering with the razor-tongued Beatrice (Amy Acker) to warn off the younger man.
Don Pedros half-brother, Don John (Sean Maher), is skulking around, sexing up one aide (Riki Lindhome) and plotting discord with the other (Spencer Treat Clark).
This bare-bones production has little of the froth and charisma of Kenneth Branaghs lush period-dress version of 1993. Truthfully, the leads are serviceable, competent and amusing but TV-bland, and take some getting used to. But the wit and wordplay are in fine form, and some bits of casting are inspired.
Dogberry, the malapropism-spouting constable, is a David Caruso-inspired boob of a cop, played with deadpan glee by Nathan Fillion.
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Roger Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service