Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing: As awesome as I thought it would be

MuchAdoShakespeare adaptations and Joss Whedon are two of my favorite things in the world. Back when a mysterious tweet announced the existence of this project, I wrote here that I would be the first in line. Okay, so maybe not the first in line, especially since the film is still in fairly limited release, but I did manage to see it this weekend, and it lived up to expectations.

For those unfamiliar with Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, the play is a bundle of schemes, deceptions, mistakes, romance, and wordplay. It is the kind of story perfect for Joss Whedon’s particularly witty brand of writing, and yet… the entire film is the original Shakespeare. So how Joss-y can it possibly be? The answer is: Pretty darn Joss-y. (Is that a word? It should be.)

The magic in this film, and indeed in any good Shakespeare adaptation, is in the visual details. The words might be the same, but the staging is so important. Most of the laughs (and there were a lot) in my theater came from those details, rather than the script. For example, near the beginning of the play, as Benedick gives Claudio his macho reasoning for remaining a bachelor, the two of them are sitting in a child’s bedroom among doghouses. Later, when Benedick first speaks to Beatrice after (erroneously) believing that she is in love with him, he delivers his speech while doing push-ups to impress her. And in one particularly excellent choice, the character of Conrade is played by a woman (Riki Lindhome), and staging sure can imply a lot about her relationship with Don John…

The acting is really excellent as well, especially as an ensemble – not surprising, considering that most of these actors have worked together before on a variety of Whedon projects, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Dollhouse to The Avengers. Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker are great as Bededick and Beatrice, and Nathan Fillion is unsurprisingly hilarious with his short turn as Dogberry. Also, Sean Maher does a seriously good villain.

In short: Go see it if you can. If you’re a Shakespeare fan, you’ll love it. And even if you’re not, if you’re a Whedon fan, it’s fun just to see all the familiar faces.

Also – Joss’ house is seriously awesome. Oh, to have been an extra in those party scenes.

Geeks are Sexy needs YOUR help. Learn more about how YOU can support us here.