Much Ado About Nothing

Rated 4.0

A while back, writer-director Joss Whedon took a two-week break from shooting The Avengers to have some friends over and whip up a shoestring black-and-white Shakespeare comedy. The result is a very different kind of summer movie: the lovable lark. By design, this isn't your average screwball wedding-conspiracy comedy, but rather a sly lyrical goof on gender politics, tipped precipitously close to tragedy. As plied by alumni of his earlier entertainment ventures—particularly Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof as the pridefully reluctant lovers Beatrice and Benedick—it's prime Whedon stuff. Acker's the real standout, able to say as much in a glance as in many lines of verse. Whedon supplies some cheeky contemporary touches here and there, but the movie's salient feature is seeming stripped-down, with a roughness around its edges by which the singular moments are more aptly framed. We can see and hear why Shakespeare's poetry has lasted these many centuries.