Much Ado About Nothing

2013

Much Ado About Nothing

Critics Consensus

Lighthearted to a fault, Much Ado About Nothing's giddy energy and intimate charm make for an entertaining romantic comedy -- and a Shakespearean adaptation that's hard to resist.

86%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 173

77%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 26,381
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Movie Info

Shakespeare's classic comedy is given a contemporary spin in Joss Whedon's film, "Much Ado About Nothing". Shot in just 12 days (and using the original text), the story of sparring lovers Beatrice and Benedick offers a dark, sexy and occasionally absurd view of the intricate game that is love. (c) Roadside Attractions

Cast

Amy Acker
as Beatrice
Clark Gregg
as Leonato
Reed Diamond
as Don Pedro
Fran Kranz
as Claudio
Sean Maher
as Don John
Tom Lenk
as Verges
Emma Bates
as Ursula
Joshua Zar
as Leonato's aide
Nick Kocher
as First Watchman
Brian McElhaney
as Second Watchman
Paul Meston
as Friar Francis
Elsa Guillet-Chapuis
as The Photographer
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Critic Reviews for Much Ado About Nothing

All Critics (173) | Top Critics (42) | Fresh (149) | Rotten (24)

Audience Reviews for Much Ado About Nothing

  • Sep 05, 2015
    Great cast of characters. Not as exciting as when Baz did Shakespeare. Hats off to Joss Whedon for keeping it classical while being very comedic.
    Jarrin R Super Reviewer
  • Dec 25, 2013
    I enjoyed it but I found it a bit hard to relate what was being said with the actual action. I would've preferred that they had adapted the dialogue as well. Good movie otherwise.
    Wildaly M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 24, 2013
    There, now that Joss Whedon has gotten all of the commercial fun out of his systems with "The Avengers", he can finally get back to the festival film circuit for the first time since that critically acclaimed, tasteful and all around high-brow artistic triumph that was "Cabin in the Woods". I joke, but man, William Shakespeare also had a taste for killing off most everyone in his stories in seriously brutal fashions, although he did have a soft side, and that's particularly on display in this hilarious comedy story from... the late 1500s. Speaking of dated material, as much as I jokingly insinuate that this isn't going to be the most tasteful of festival features, in this day and age, the title "Much Ado About Nothing" sounds startlingly pretentious, and the poster doesn't exactly help, what with its featuring a man emerging from a lake with a scuba mask and a martini in black-and-white. Now that's French, but don't get too excited, Cannes festival fans, as this showed up at the Toronto International Film Festival, so it's only Canadian French, so much so that it features Nathan Fillion. I love how Fillion has been on a streak of voicing in direct-to-DVD superhero films, and is finally getting back to feature films for the first time since the superhero film "Super" by hooking up with one of everyone's favorite superhero filmmakers for an adaptation of a Shakespeare play. Oh, dude, after they interpreted "Romeo and Juliet" with animated gnomes, they just have to do a superhero-themed interpretation of a Shakespeare play, you know, outside of "Thor", which is kind of like a Shakespeare film just by association with the rest of Kenneth Branagh's filmography. Kenneth was on a streak of making Shakespeare films, including "Much Ado About Nothing", then he went superhero on us for the money, and now Whedon, after a streak of superhero films, is going for a Shakespeare film for the artistic integrity, so even the background fun facts on this film is rich with poetic irony, meaning that this is going to be a fairly effective Shakespeare adaptation, if you can get past the problems that is. Look, we can go on a while joking about how exposition is difficult to discern through all of the confusing Shakespearean dialogue and whatnot, but immediate development really is lacking, and gradual characterization also stands to be more fleshed out, something that you can actually say about Shakespeare's original story, which also suffers from melodrama, at least in a post-romantic era. Many of the storytelling elements were surely going to be dated in this modern adaptation of a super-late 16th century story, and there are subtly colorful elements in this adaptation's storytelling that are able to sell much of the histrionic material within its own context, but this assured storytelling is not as consistent as it should be, thus, modernist audiences are bound to be as distanced by the histrionics as they are by the dialogue, which isn't just disengaging because of the dating. Overlong and often repetitious dialogue pieces are not interpreted with as much dynamicity as they probably should be in storytelling, which isn't all that limp in set piece drawing, but with limited liveliness, and just within the script, as direction, while rarely too dry, gets to be colder than it should be at times. These dry spells stiffen pacing, allowing you slow moments to soak in the sense of dragging within storytelling, both by Joss Whedon and by William Shakespeare, for although a lot of the problems derive from shortcomings within the interpretation of classic, but minimalist source material, what really holds the final product back is the classic, but minimalist source material itself. There are only so many mistakes here, but there are many plenty of natural shortcomings to this relatively minimalist Shakespearean melodrama, whose conflict is limited, and whose interpretation is not colorful enough to compensate for dramatic limitations with fun. This film is entertaining, make no mistake, but there's only so much that you can do with subject matter this thin, and it's mighty hard to deny that the less the film tells you about the depths of its characters with genuineness, and the more the film drags its feet. The final product ultimately sputters out as underwhelming, but that's mostly because of the natural shortcomings, for when it comes to the execution of an adequately intriguing, classic story, while there are mistakes, there's a good bit of inspiration, even within style. Although this film isn't quite as stylish as I was kind of hoping it would be, the black-and-white color palette, combined with some stylishly nifty camera plays, allows cinematographer Jay Hunter to craft a visual style that is distinguished and visually appealing, and captures the dry color of Shakespeare's lighthearted opus, whose substance is indeed worthy of compliment, not just from interpreters' style but from observers. Granted, this thin narrative is lacking in the meat found within plenty other Shakespeare dramas, and that natural shortcoming really shakes bite in this ultimately underwhelming effort, but wit reigns supreme within dialogue and colorful, if undercooked characterization behind a quirky plot that is interpreted into a modern setting organically enough to be bought. I was expecting it to be difficult to run with yet another application of Shakespearean writing to a much more contemporary setting, and while this story was always going to be hard to full buy, due to the melodrama, there's enough to be bought here to reflect potential within this character piece, often brought to life by the character portrayals. Carrying both esteemed and up-and-coming talents, this colorful cast offers electric chemistry between the performers that is matched only by the individual performances' charisma, each one of which is distinguished enough to augment the memorability of some classic characters. Characterization is thin in enough places for the characters to run the risk of collapse in genuineness, but realization to the Shakespearean performances sells the characters who drive much of this narrative, in spite of dramatic limitations, while other elements of storytelling go sold by a certain offscreen performance. As director, Joss Whedon's liveliness is limited, but certainly there, using style and a quirky score by Whedon himself in order to sustain a degree of entertainment value, however limited it may be by dryness, whose wit is sold by cleverly staged set pieces that reflect a grounded intelligence, which is needed for a modernist interpretation of a classic dry comedy. The palpable wit and heart of this film keep charm consistent, no matter how inconsistent engagement value may get to be in this limp melodrama, whose consequential and natural shortcomings do some serious damage, but cannot obscure strengths that never cease to drive the final product as far as it can go with so many underwhelming limitations. When there is, in fact, nothing left to say, there's only so much flare to compensate for the underdevelopment, histrionics, repetitious dragging and, of course, natural shortcomings to William Shakespeare's relatively minimalist story concept that drive this film into underwhelmingness, but not so deeply that fitting style, inspired acting and reasonably lively direction aren't able to draw enough intrigue from this classic story concept to make Joss Whedon's interpretation of "Much Ado About Nothing" passably entertaining and sometimes compelling, in spite of shortcomings. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Dec 14, 2013
    Joss Whedon's black and white film noir cinematography and a decent cast (who obviously look like they are having fun) bring a nice air of novelty, but your enjoyment is going to heavily depend on how much you like Shakespeare.
    Christopher H Super Reviewer

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