Saturday, May 03, 2008

Reader's Diary #353- William Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing (FINISHED)

Of all the movie genres, I probably dislike romantic comedies the most. It's not a guy thing; I'm not opposed to love stories. However, romantic comedies tend to have an unbelievable love story and typically aren't funny. Yes, I can think of a few exceptions, but even those can't convince me to even consider going to see Made of Honor and the like.

Much Ado About Nothing was almost doomed from the get-go. And before you Shakespeare goons start with the "the man was a genius" argument, I'll quickly point out the mistaken identities, the eavesdropping, and the faked death near the end of this play. I hate to always come back to Three's Company when I refer to ridiculous situations, but again, it felt like such an episode.

But since I actually enjoyed Three's Company, I questioned why Much Ado About Nothing wasn't doing it for me. Was it too over the top? Perhaps. But then his tragedies are pretty over the top, and I like those. When half a cast is wiped out with brutal murders and suicides, it's really no more authentic than Don Pedro dressing up at a masquerade ball, pretending to be Claudio, and wooing Hero on his behalf.

Eventually I came around on it a little. It was a farce. It was entertaining. The love-hate chemistry of Benedick and Beatrice was good for a few witty chuckles. However, it still felt like Shakespeare just didn't seem to put the same care into this one. Most of the characters (except for the aforementioned Beatrice and Benedick) were flat and unconvincing. Hardly any time was spent on their motivations and some of the cast, such as Don Pedro and Claudio, seemed virtually indistinguishable from one another. Contrast this to the soul searching Hamlet or the guilt-ridden Macbeth. Or perhaps I just need a bit of blood-- maybe it is a guy thing after all.

The Soundtrack:
1. (You're The Devil) In Disguise- Elvis Presley
2. Jigs: Eavesdropper's/Both Meat and Drink/Off We Go- Great Big Sea
3. Your Cheatin' Heart- Hank Williams
4. I Hope I Don't Fall In Love With You- Tom Waits
5. It All Turns To Gold- Popa Chubby

Cross-posted at BiblioShakespeare.


Allison said...

I don't really care for romantic comedies, but I like Much Ado About Nothing because it was a break from the tragedies.

Duane Morin said...

I think you're exactly right in everything you said, honestly. Last production of Much Ado I saw, I compared to an episode of Scooby Doo.
And the only villain in the play is so over the top in his evil about trivial things he might as well be twirling the ends of his handlebar mustache and wearing a long black cape. "There's to be a WEDDING? Then I shall RUIN it! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!"

John Mutford said...

Allison: I've probably read more of his tragedies, but I have read a few comedies. I remember liking A Midsummer Night's Dream, though it was a while ago and I wonder how I'd feel now.

Duane: Ha! I can picture that.

By the way, I just checked out Duane's Shakespeare Geek and it's very cool. It's quite amazing how alive and well Shakespeare's work continues to be.

Anonymous said...

Great soundtrack.

Normally I loathe romantic comedies but I like Much Ado About Nothing. It's so farcial and the language always gets to me.

And dang. I'm catching up on blogs after the Hell that is April and just realized that a) I never did sign onto the Obscure blog and b) I didn't quite grasp the concept. Unpopular book by popular author, eh? Hmm.

John Mutford said...

Carrie: There were parts I enjoyed, but it's certainly not my favourite Shakespeare. Then, not my least favourite either.

And I probably didn't describe the Obscure Challenge all that well. Basically, it's about reading books most people haven't heard of, written by authors most people have.