User Score
7.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 49 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 44 out of 49
  2. Negative: 3 out of 49

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  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. 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.
  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, 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 hisJoss 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. Expand
  3. Jun 11, 2013
    10
    This early premiere of Joss Whedon's low budget Shakespearian film of Much Ado About Nothing. Mr. Whedon has created a new black and white love story that takes place in Santa Monica, California, and he developed his stylistic movie at his own home with great actors from his TV series and other movies. Based on William Shakespeare's short novel, the story is about Benedick (Alexis Denisof)This early premiere of Joss Whedon's low budget Shakespearian film of Much Ado About Nothing. Mr. Whedon has created a new black and white love story that takes place in Santa Monica, California, and he developed his stylistic movie at his own home with great actors from his TV series and other movies. Based on William Shakespeare's short novel, the story is about Benedick (Alexis Denisof) and the Dons are approaching at Leonato's home during the war and they take their custody of Don John (Sean Maher) and Conrade (Riki Lindhorne). While they approach to Leonato's home, Claudio wants to fell in love with Leonato's daughter, Hero for his permission to marry her. Also, Benedick and Beatrice (Amy Acker) have love chemistry to each other from the past, and they both have good moments like love and passion. The actors are excellent for portraying Shakespearian characters like Clark Gregg as Leonato, Nathan Fillion as Dogberry, and Franz Kranz as Claudio. One actor who did portray as Benedick is Alexis Denisof, who did an excellent job for performing as a likable character with good acting skills and clever dialogue than other actors try so hard to perform their characters in big blockbuster movies. The scenes are so incredible to look at with great black and white editing, everything is so dark, and the lines are so funny. Much Ado About Nothing is a flawless Shakespearian movie that has incredible cast, great love story and great moments. Joss Whedon makes a nice romantic film that doesn't get too much audience to enjoy this low budget movie than other summer blockbuster movies that are coming out, but this one is a perfect film that I recommended to see this movie in a small local theater near you. Two Thumbs Up! Expand
  4. Jun 9, 2013
    1
    Short version: awful acting. No--- unforgivable acting overall.
    Professional critics are criminally insane to give this a 76 on metacritic; like, crazed-despot insane.
    *** This movie is a failure on almost every major front, and most minor ones. Say whatever you like about these actors and this director in general; in this movie, the ensemble and their director have absolutely no ear
    Short version: awful acting. No--- unforgivable acting overall.
    Professional critics are criminally insane to give this a 76 on metacritic; like, crazed-despot insane.
    ***
    This movie is a failure on almost every major front, and most minor ones. Say whatever you like about these actors and this director in general; in this movie, the ensemble and their director have absolutely no ear for dialog. This is related to their problem in setting a comic tone [they don't], finding what's 'in play' at any given time, finding physical things to do, emoting believably [or at all], and finding the heart in the play. They fail line by line, moment by moment, almost every scene. Now imagine them proceeding confidently and professionally despite their cluelessness, and you can almost imagine how bad it is. At least a Turdsville Community Theater production would have emoted sometimes, and tugged on your heart a little. This is very arguably the single funniest Shakespeare play on the page. How can you miss, right? [Incidentally, if I thought that Whedon meant to re-interpret the first romantic comedy as a drama, I would have given it a zero.]

    Before I rant any further and you think I have an axe to grind with Whedon, let me say that I went opening weekend, and the rest of the opening weekend crowd did not laugh once for the first 45 minutes of the movie. These people were right not to laugh.

    Whedon starts the movie with a smart, wordless prologue that isn't present in the play and sets up Beatrice and Benedick's relationship in the play. This good move, the lighting, and the sound are why I give this movie one point out of ten, instead of zero. Fran Kranz has a few moments, and was the first to get the audience to laugh.

    Whedon adapted the play poorly on at least two fronts:
    -the male leads as soliders/gangsters, as a modern adaptation choice, makes zero sense
    -also, he trims the play and gives it a [too] fast pace, but keeps some very dated lines that Shakespeare's ghost would have likely thrown out without a second thought, either because it's 410 years old, never hit well in the first place, or both. This is one of Shakespeare's least dated plays [in its language and sensibilities], and Whedon finds a way to put dust on it at times.

    There is some needless crotch-rubbing in a scene that seemed to need it to Joss, some dumb reframing of the camera, and a few jarringly artsy shots that don't fit the rest of the tone. This is among the worst 10% of movies I have seen, out of hundreds. This is tied for the single worst Shakespeare production I have ever seen [with a 1980's BBC Midsummer Night's Dream that was so artsy as to sterilize the play, and a community theater version of Henry IV, Part 1], out of approximately seventy-five. I like Shakespeare, I like it set in the here and now with American accents, I like black and white, I like weird choices, I like movies that are shot in a minimalist way, I like Whedon. This movie stinks.

    As for the critics, allow me to suggest that as a group they are a bunch of concubines. They don't think of themselves as whores, and they're right.

    Taking popcorn movies and tv, and making them smart, is Whedon's forte. Taking something smart and making it popcorn, I hope he never tries again. As George Bluth Sr. said to Buster Bluth about why he wouldn't let him play youth sports: "No, no, look, you were you were just a turd out there, you know? You couldn't kick, and you couldn't run, you know? You were just... a turd."

    Watch the 1993 Much Ado About Nothing. It's pretty darn good.
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  5. 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 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.
  6. Jun 9, 2013
    9
    What an amazing home! Whedon's Much Ado is fantastic, mostly because of its lead actors the consistently amazing Amy Acker and the criminally under-cast Alexis Denisof.
  7. Jun 22, 2013
    7
    Joss Whedon is best known as writer/director of "The Avengers," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Firefly," so this departure into Shakespeare is atypical. It was shot in 12 days at his own house using his cast member friends (not movie stars). He's given the romantic comedy a more somber tone, shot it in classic B&W and injected some musical interludes (which he also wrote). TheJoss Whedon is best known as writer/director of "The Avengers," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Firefly," so this departure into Shakespeare is atypical. It was shot in 12 days at his own house using his cast member friends (not movie stars). He's given the romantic comedy a more somber tone, shot it in classic B&W and injected some musical interludes (which he also wrote). The performances are all strong with Nathan Fillion adding in a delightful turn as Dogberry. If you enjoy the Bard, this contemporary restaging is attractive, well-crafted and entertaining. Expand
  8. Jul 31, 2013
    8
    Truly wonderful film. Whedon takes Shakespeare's often hard to grasp words and spins some sort of magic, largely due to his raft of friends who come along for the ride. After some initial jarring with the juxtaposition of old style language with the modern setting, it settles into a rhythm thanks to the energy of the performers. Nathan Fillion, Alexis Denisof and Fran Kranz impress withTruly wonderful film. Whedon takes Shakespeare's often hard to grasp words and spins some sort of magic, largely due to his raft of friends who come along for the ride. After some initial jarring with the juxtaposition of old style language with the modern setting, it settles into a rhythm thanks to the energy of the performers. Nathan Fillion, Alexis Denisof and Fran Kranz impress with both the dramatic and comedic elements of the script, but it's Amy Acker's Beatrice who ties the film together. Acker is simply magical. The party scene, soundtracked with "Sigh No More" by Mau (with lyrics by Shakespeare), was one of the most delightful scenes in a 2013 film. Expand
  9. Sep 1, 2014
    7
    Josh Whedon's take on Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing retains the original script but updates the setting to the modern day.

    Truth be told it's not always easy to follow the 17th Century dialogue but the bard had a way with words that few others can match and his tales still largely stand up today, even if some of the humour is lost in translation. The performances, including a
    Josh Whedon's take on Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing retains the original script but updates the setting to the modern day.

    Truth be told it's not always easy to follow the 17th Century dialogue but the bard had a way with words that few others can match and his tales still largely stand up today, even if some of the humour is lost in translation. The performances, including a host of Whedon favourites, are excellent and help belay the movies small budget.
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  10. Jun 17, 2013
    5
    Short review: If you like Joss Whedon, you'll like this movie.

    Long review: First off, I know this isn't my cup of tea, but do we really need another Shakespeare adaptation? I was intrigued by the use of the original text but there just wasn't much here for me that made it worth watching. I mean, for the Whedon-istas out there, it's got all the things you expect of a Whedon movie.
    Short review: If you like Joss Whedon, you'll like this movie.

    Long review: First off, I know this isn't my cup of tea, but do we really need another Shakespeare adaptation? I was intrigued by the use of the original text but there just wasn't much here for me that made it worth watching. I mean, for the Whedon-istas out there, it's got all the things you expect of a Whedon movie. The same type of humor, the dramatic moments, and Nathan Fillion. If you notice, the reviews giving this movie a 9 or 10 are mega Whedon fans and that's totally fine! But if you are going to watch this movie without being into everything Whedon does, then you can pretty much skip this one. There were some funny moment, sure, but even at only an hour and a half, I just wanted this thing to be over.

    I realize this is one of Whedon's "cheap" movies but it really came off like a well-shot and decently-acted Cinemax movie without the sex scenes. Fancy house in the valley, everyone in suits and dresses for no reason, and a group of people getting together for no real purpose other than to make a story possible. And it's Shakespeare, so you're not getting anything new on the script front. Just the Whedon gang getting together to work on a project. For my taste, the comedy was so-so and the drama was sappy. Just so-so for me.
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  11. Jun 20, 2013
    10
    I love how Whedon was able to film this in 12 days with a fabulous cast and crew in his own home. Whedon and Shakespeare are a match made in heaven. Bravo hands down the best Shakespeare movie ever made. Truly witty and tasteful.
  12. Oct 8, 2013
    6
    Saying anything bad about Shakespeare or an adaptation of one of his works is a quick and easy way for people to jerk their knees and call you an uncultured heathen. Doing one of his works is the fast track to get great reviews because syndicated snob critics really, REALLY don't want to look uncultured. Joss Whedon's adaptation of "Much Ado About Nothing" doesn't do much wrong but itSaying anything bad about Shakespeare or an adaptation of one of his works is a quick and easy way for people to jerk their knees and call you an uncultured heathen. Doing one of his works is the fast track to get great reviews because syndicated snob critics really, REALLY don't want to look uncultured. Joss Whedon's adaptation of "Much Ado About Nothing" doesn't do much wrong but it isn't doing much to stand out either. Most of the acting is decent and the heart of the play is there, so it's funny. But it doesn't change the fact that it looked cheap to me. Modern day retellings always come off cheap to me because it looks like a film student's last minute project. It's like they forgot the movie was due so they just filmed their friends reading the lines, excused the modern day attire by saying it's a "modern retelling" and put it in black and white so it looks, "you know, deep and stuff." This movie looks less like it was done by Joss Whedon and more like it was done by a student who's semester got away from him and decided to make this the Sunday afternoon before the Monday it was due. Expand
  13. Oct 4, 2013
    4
    Unless you are a Shakespeare lover this movie is not for you. For me, combining a Shakesperian theme in today's world (even if it was meant to be a comedy) just didn't work. Also didn't care that it was in black and white but that's just me. It didn't provide any authenticity. I don give it points for the quality of actors in the movie.
  14. Oct 14, 2013
    1
    A complete waste of time. Not entertaining at all. Black and white film. What is this retro crap??? I would not recommend this movie at all. Do not bother renting it.
  15. Mar 12, 2014
    10
    joss whedon once again proves he is a good director and he must be good after avengers , clark gregg did well and so does the rest of cast. always good movie
  16. Nov 30, 2014
    7
    i had to watch this play in school. In spite of the numerous problems thrown in their way, the couples end up happy with each other. A picturesque ending!
Metascore
78

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: 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]
  2. 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.
  3. 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.