The obvious first step in transferring this Broadway musical comedy to the screen would have been to tone things down a notch – to soften material that had been
yelled to the back row of a theater for the cozy intimacy of the cinema. Yet Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, reprising their stage roles as a pair of showmen looking to put on a flop, are still shouting to the cheap seats, forgetting that movie theaters are general admission.
They’re maddening, but others in the cast – especially Will Ferrell as a loony Nazi playwright – hit the right level of comic mania. (To see it played perfectly go back to the 1968 Mel Brooks film where it all started.)