Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 37
  2. Negative: 0 out of 37
  1. Reviewed by: Sheila O'Malley
    Jun 21, 2013
    Would the magic hold? The magic holds. It holds from beginning to end.
  2. Reviewed by: Nell Minow
    Jun 20, 2013
    Joss Whedon’s take on Shakespeare’s classic tale is swanky, sexy and sophisticated, as bracing as a dry martini poured from a silver shaker on a summer night.
  3. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Jun 6, 2013
    From its very first scenes, Mr. Whedon’s film crackles with a busy, slightly wayward energy that recalls the classic romantic sparring of the studio era.
  4. Mar 7, 2013
    Its off-the-cuff nature makes for a film that is not flawless – the music is a bit daft, and some of the acting a little too “large” for the intimate setting – but is, from beginning to end, delightful.
  5. 90
    The movie’s singular acting triumph is Nathan Fillion’s Constable Dogberry, one of Shakespeare’s simpler buffoons made poetic by understatement. Fillion speaks softly, with ­uninflected sincerity, a brilliant departure from the standard gregarious-­hambone Dogberry. It’s his insularity — his imperviousness to the interjections of more observant people — that makes him such a touchingly credible clown.
  6. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Jun 21, 2013
    Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing is just about the sloppiest Shakespeare ever put on the screen. It may also be the most exhilarating — a profound trifle that reminds you how close Shakespeare’s comedies verge on darkness before pirouetting back into the light.
  7. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Jun 20, 2013
    Finally! A romantic comedy that works. And not just because of Shakespeare.
  8. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Jun 6, 2013
    The first filmed Shakespeare comedy in decades that’s actually funny.
  9. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Jun 20, 2013
    It's a pleasant, engaging version of probably the closest thing to a sitcom the Bard ever penned.
  10. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Jun 19, 2013
    Much Ado About Nothing is simply a fun time among Whedon and his friends, and for the most part it's contagious.
  11. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Jun 7, 2013
    I enjoyed Whedon’s film both as a species of stunt and also as a legitimately entertaining entry in the voluminous Shakespeare adaptation sweepstakes.
  12. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    Jun 5, 2013
    So kudos to the cast of Much Ado About Nothing, Joss Whedon’s scrappy, snappy take of one of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies. With little exception, the players assembled here — most of them veterans of the Whedonverse — pull off that difficult balancing act with gusto.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 51 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 16
  2. Negative: 3 out of 16
  1. Jun 9, 2013
    Brilliant! Rarely have I enjoyed a film this much. "Much Ado" was funny, beautiful and held the audience rapt. The cast was captivating.Brilliant! Rarely have I enjoyed a film this much. "Much Ado" was funny, beautiful and held the audience rapt. The cast was captivating. The artistic and directorial choices in tone, setting, photography, staging, and pace were all spot on. I guess a little less camera shake would have been OK. Full Review »
  2. Jun 13, 2013
    Joss Whedon seems to be a man who does not understand the concept of downtime. Once shooting wrapped on his wildly ambitious The Avengers, theJoss Whedon seems to be a man who does not understand the concept of downtime. Once shooting wrapped on his wildly ambitious The Avengers, the writer-director was contractually obligated to take a week off before diving into the post-production on the sprawling superhero ensemble piece. But instead of kicking back, Whedon gathered together another ensemble—mostly made up of actors from his various television outings—to make a short and sweet movie out of William Shakespeare's play Much Ado About Nothing. Made in just 12 days, the black-and-white film features the original text in a contemporary setting and is infused with the kind of enthusiasm you'd expect from a Whedon pet project. But its spontaneity does have some drawbacks. Devotees of the Whedonverse are surely chomping at the bit for his latest effort, and likely won't be disappointed. It's fun seeing his familiar crew of performers playing with Shakespeare, and imaging yourself in attendance at one of Whedon's private parties, where the famous people you crush on gather to drink and read plays aloud. (Swoon!) There's an earnestness and energy that exudes from the film, and makes it a joy to watch. However, the overall execution is less than spectacular. The cinematography is functional, but not artful. The blocking feels nonsensical, sometimes distractingly so, as characters meander with unclear purpose around the lovely California home (Whedon's own) where all this mischief unfolds. Sometimes, a scene's staging seems like an idea that didn't pan out, but didn't merit a reshoot (a scene set in a clearly shallow pool makes for a particularly jarring moment). Likewise, the art design lacks Whedon's usual sense of flair, with characters cloaked in ill-fitting suits and dull dresses. Attempts at grandeur (close-ups on delicate table settings and maids prepping flowers) suggest an attempt at scope this low-budget feature can't quite pull off. Basically, it feels like a movie Whedon shot in 12 days. Still, Whedon with 12 days is worthwhile watching. This comedy is undeniably charming, in no small part because of its cast. Acker and Denisof exchange their Shakespearean barbs with a bravado and glee that makes them fun to watch, even if their chemistry never quite feels erotic. Fillion and Lenk are well paired in their roles as easily puzzled comic relief, and spark a welcomed levity to the narrative's bleaker moments. For his part, Gregg brings a radiant warmth—and later chilling rage—to the role of Leonato, further proving he should be in just about everything. But it's Kranz who proves the movie's true standout. Claudio is a tricky role, as he is a soldier who turns from eager, lovesick boy to slut-shaming wrathful brute on a dime. But Kranz manages the turn with aplomb. His bright grin makes him adorable in the film's first act, and his steely scorn makes the pivotal wedding scene profoundly heartbreaking. Between this film and Cabin in the Woods it seems Whedon is trying to convince the world that Kranz is a viable and crush-worthy romantic lead. It might be too soon to speak for the world, but he has at least convinced this critic. Much Ado About Nothing is a joyful romp and noble experiment. There are times where its spontaneity leads to clunky compositions or awkward execution, but the shared charisma of its mostly terrific cast and the bubbly barbs of Shakespeare blend to make an intoxicating treat nicely suited to summer. Whedon has a special skill for marrying lightheartedness to dark matter, and so it in that sense Much Ado About Nothing seemed a perfect play for him to tackle. It's just a shame he didn't have a bit more time and/or money behind it to make it something truly stupendous. Full Review »
  3. Dec 23, 2013
    Thank you, Mike_M. After trying to watch this god awful movie I searched desperately to see if others felt the same way. The critics areThank you, Mike_M. After trying to watch this god awful movie I searched desperately to see if others felt the same way. The critics are idiots and have truly disappointed me. What is worse, they made me feel as though I was taking crazy pills. This movie was terrible. Thank you for the very accurate and well written review. Full Review »