Shakespeare, you slay me. Much Ado About Nothing.

Much Ado About Nothing: Movie Review

Over Spring Break, while vacationing in Florida and running around Disney World and Universal like I child, I happened to find time to watch Much Ado About Nothing, a 1993 adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play of the same name. It is a delightful comedy, telling two love stories of very different natures.

The film tells the tale of Beatrice and Benedick (played by Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh), who scorn love and marriage but of course, the pair is drawn together in the end. On the other side of the story are Claudio and Hero, a young enamored couple. Kate Beckinsale made her debut in acting as Hero, and although she is pretty and embodies all that is beautiful and pure about love, there’s not much to say for her acting, other than a few tears and longing looks at her lover.

Much Ado About Nothing is one of those films that screams, “Nominate me!” so I was surprised to find it was not among the listed Oscar nods. Other than a few scene transitions, where images fade in and out over each other while cheesy, whimsical music plays in the background, the film captured each scene well enough, and other than Keanu Reeves (don’t worry; we’ll get to him), every actor did a fine job in their role.

Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh are fierce as lovers in a “merry war” and perhaps some of their chemistry arises from their real romance at the time the film was made. Branagh played a duel-role as actor and director, and it made me curious to see what other films he starred in or directed. Emma Thompson never surprises me nor am I ever disappointed by her acting abilities. She reminds me of Meryl Streep in the fact that whenever I watch her in a film, she just brings it. Even if it was some pathetic movie, that chick will give her utmost. However, unlike Streep, I find Thompson incredibly hard to dislike, no matter her role. (Trelawney fans anyone?)

The actors who played Hero and Claudio did their jobs: I honestly have nothing negative or positive to remark on. They were certainly the pretty faces of the film; Thompson and Branagh were the real meat. Denzel Washington also starred, as Don Pedro of Aragon, who seems quite marriageable yet remains single by the end of the play, quite literally. Don Pedro is just standing there while everyone is celebrating at the end. He even puts himself out there for Beatrice, but alas, she rejects him – gently – and they remain friends. I’m sure that’s what he was going for.

Poor Denzel. You’ll play a love interest in another movie.

Keanu Reeves – sadly enough – plays the villain as Don Pedro’s half-brother, Don John, who is forlornly dissatisfied in life and seeks to wreak havoc on others. He does a shoddy job at all acting; I honestly don’t think Reeves knew what he was saying half the time. I know Shakespeare can be hard to understand, but somebody get this dude a tutor.

 So, if you can suffer through Reeves’ performance…

After conspiring with his men, Don John manages to ruin Hero and Claudio’s wedding by calling out Hero as – well – a whore. Or you know, a wilted flower or something if it’s in Shakespeare’s terms. He escapes when he is found out but is later imprisoned.  We must have our happy ending after all.

Spoiler warning: Much Ado About Nothing ends with everyone celebrating and in pure bliss, happily in love and matched perfectly (except for Denzel).

I was pleasantly surprised by Much Ado About Nothing and would even recommend this play or movie to someone who isn’t a Shakespeare fan. Although it is in the analogy ridden, convoluted, slightly confusing language and all that, it is still incredibly easy to comprehend the plot and what each person is trying to communicate. There are also many quips and jabs that are quite amusing.

My only warning would be this; Much Ado About Nothing is a old-age romantic comedy, thoroughly. So perhaps not all men would plop down on the couch to watch this one. Regardless, it is a well done film – despite silly Keanu Reeves – and very enjoyable.

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