In retrospect, I’m not sure why I thought I’d enjoy Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing. Sure, it’s directed by Joss Whedon, and stars most of my favourite actors from the Whedon stable, but it’s still a Shakespeare comedy with all the comic sophistication of an episode of Miranda.
For a while it’s fun; all these actors from Angel, Dollhouse and Firefly that we haven’t seen for a while, all on screen together in a Whedon production. What Whedon fan wouldn’t get a little giddy over that? You spend a good three to four years falling in love with Amy Acker, you’re not going to pass up the chance to see her in a feature-length film.
Then after about half an hour or so I realised I was bored and hadn’t laughed once. Shit, I thought, I’m watching a Shakespeare comedy! How the hell did that happen? Suddenly I was transported back to sixth-form where I’d been obliged to study this ridiculous play and it all flooded back. The mugging, the pratfalls, the forced “HA HA HA SHAKESPEARE BRILLIANT!” type of laughs coming from the audience. That tiresome Kenneth Branagh adaptation that I seem to remember being about two hours of Cambridge Footlights graduates laughing their tits off. Seriously, try and sit through this ten minute opening. Ever see so many people laugh for so long? It’s pretty chilling.
So, what to say about Joss Whedon’s adaptation? I’m sure it’s fine. Everyone plays their roles competently and smoothly and there’s nothing wrong with any of it. If you’re a fan of Shakespeare comedies, I imagine you’ll be well-served here, but then, you’ll probably laugh at anything, right?
I’m not actually complaining; I’m sure that Whedon found the filming experience to be cathartic and refreshing after The Avengers and I don’t begrudge him for it. I’m sure he needed the break and, God knows, he must find it hard to relax in that beautiful, spacious Santa Monica home with its stunning views and expansive swimming pool. I was left wishing that he’d recharged his batteries by filming something he’d written, though.
At least subsequent sixth-form generations won’t have to watch the Branagh adaptation in class any more, so, you know, there’s that.