Much Ado About Nothing

Metascore
78

Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 37
  2. Negative: 0 out of 37

Where To Watch

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jun 21, 2013
    80
    Although not everyone in the cast is as comfortable with the dialogue as Acker, for whom it seems natural, there is a clear love for the material here in every performance, in every shot. It’s not stuffy or remote. It’s fun.
  2. Reviewed by: Steve Davis
    Jun 19, 2013
    78
    Fillion’s performance as the constable Dogberry in this section is the film’s comic highlight. Wounded by an insult, his ass-backward indignation achieves a droll momentum that will have you chuckling. All’s well that ends well, indeed.
  3. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Jun 21, 2013
    88
    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.
  4. Reviewed by: Nell Minow
    Jun 20, 2013
    100
    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.
  5. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Jun 20, 2013
    88
    Finally! A romantic comedy that works. And not just because of Shakespeare.
  6. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Jun 7, 2013
    83
    I enjoyed Whedon’s film both as a species of stunt and also as a legitimately entertaining entry in the voluminous Shakespeare adaptation sweepstakes.
  7. Reviewed by: Helen O'Hara
    Jun 10, 2013
    80
    It will require no conspiring to make you fall for this one; Whedon and Shakespeare are a perfect match.
  8. Reviewed by: Chris Nashawaty
    Jun 5, 2013
    75
    The film isn't as fast and funny as it could be, although Nathan Fillion's easily offended constable injects some sorely needed comic relief.
  9. Reviewed by: Jordan Hoffman
    Mar 7, 2013
    75
    This tiny friends-and-family production has the vibe of a project done on weekends and after school. That’s no knock. It is vibrant and bubbly and just clever enough to engage people who wouldn’t normally watch a black-and-white micro-budget Shakespeare adaptation without any big movie stars.
  10. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Mar 7, 2013
    58
    Call it a Shakespearean catharsis or just call it a lark -- either way, the movie represents Whedon's least essential work, regardless of the material's inherent comedic inspiration.
  11. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Jun 6, 2013
    70
    It feels like a blessing to have this production at all and we are fortunate it turned out as well as it did.
  12. 75
    A winking comedy with dark underpinnings and some of Shakespeare’s most wicked wordplay.
  13. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Jun 6, 2013
    80
    An absolute delight, as merry as the day is long.
  14. 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.
  15. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Jun 6, 2013
    88
    The first filmed Shakespeare comedy in decades that’s actually funny.
  16. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Jun 20, 2013
    83
    It's a pleasant, engaging version of probably the closest thing to a sitcom the Bard ever penned.
  17. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Jun 19, 2013
    75
    Whedon has made the Bard accessible and that achievement places him alongside Branagh in the exclusive club of directors who can handle both superheroes and Shakespeare effectively.
  18. Reviewed by: Sheila O'Malley
    Jun 21, 2013
    100
    Would the magic hold? The magic holds. It holds from beginning to end.
  19. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Jun 6, 2013
    75
    Whedon, without skimping on the tale’s tragic undercurrents, has crafted an irresistible blend of mirth and malice.
  20. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Jun 6, 2013
    70
    Homemade as it clearly is, and first-drafty as it often feels, Whedon’s Much Ado will reward repeat viewings, for the adroitly paced dialogue, the debauched humor of the extended party scenes and the offbeat visual jokes.
  21. Reviewed by: Chris Cabin
    Jun 3, 2013
    50
    The film is nothing without the physicality of the performers, as Joss Whedon's script handles the transition of Shakespeare's language to modern day indifferently.
  22. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Jun 6, 2013
    80
    This Much Ado About Nothing — while perhaps not an adaptation for the ages in every respect — is as bracingly effervescent as picnic champagne.
  23. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Jun 20, 2013
    63
    Whether on stage or the screen, Much Ado About Nothing is a pleasure that passes like a midsummer night’s dream.
  24. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Jun 19, 2013
    83
    Much Ado About Nothing is simply a fun time among Whedon and his friends, and for the most part it's contagious.
  25. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    Jun 5, 2013
    83
    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.
  26. 75
    It’s a pleasant surprise, therefore, to see what Whedon has done with the Bard’s timeless comedy Much Ado About Nothing.
  27. Reviewed by:  Catherine Shoard
    Mar 7, 2013
    80
    But Whedon's key coup is in simply directing a very good version of the play. He's got a keen ear for comedy, a no-nonsense approach to ditching the gags that don't work, a deft hand for slapstick and an eagerness to use it.
  28. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Mar 7, 2013
    80
    More than most adaptations, this is a film true to Shakespeare's practice of employing all means at hand to keep the crowd entertained.
  29. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Jun 6, 2013
    100
    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.
  30. The New Yorker
    Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Jun 23, 2013
    70
    Still, there is a time to stop quibbling, and to laud the fact that this movie was made at all. [24 June 2013, p.85]
  31. Mar 7, 2013
    91
    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.
  32. Reviewed by: David Gritten
    Jun 15, 2013
    80
    Acker and Denisof spar with each other in the best traditions of screwball comedy; worthy modern equivalents to Tracy and Hepburn. They’re the main source of joy in a film overflowing with treats.
  33. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Jun 4, 2013
    60
    The movie feels like too much of a lark. To paraphrase the play’s voice of reason, Friar Francis, it would be better if Whedon paused awhile and let his counsel sway us more.
  34. Reviewed by: Matt Maytum
    Jun 9, 2013
    80
    A breezy but heartfelt Shakespear update that should put a smile on the faces of Whedon fans, Bard worshippers and anyone in the mood for a sharp, sassy romance.
  35. Reviewed by: Chris Packham
    Jun 4, 2013
    80
    With its interrogations of gender, feminism, and marriage, Shakespeare's comedy is an apt vehicle for Whedon's own storytelling agenda.
  36. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Jun 6, 2013
    70
    Even if snorkeling wasn't a major sport in 16th-century Sicily, where the action was originally set, the joyous spirit of the play has been preserved in this modest, homegrown production.
  37. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Jun 20, 2013
    75
    With Much Ado About Nothing, Whedon has crafted an endearing bagatelle, made with equal parts brio and love, ambition and pared-down modesty.

Awards & Rankings

User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 57 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 16
  2. Negative: 3 out of 16
  1. Jun 9, 2013
    10
    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
    8
    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
    0
    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 »