It’s good to be Joss Whedon. Every time you make a movie, you get all of your closest friends together to act in it. Then you go from vampires to superheroes to musicals to science fiction to Shakespeare, all in the course of a decade. And people love it. They love you. It matters not what you do from here on out, because you’ve got a rabid fanbase who will follow you to the ends of the earth.
And with good reason. Whedon knows how to tell a good story, and that’s why it doesn’t matter which genre he’s working in at any particular moment. What matters is whether you’ve got good characters, snappy writing and a great story.
And it appears he has all of those things in “Much Ado About Nothing,” which premiered in U.S. theaters at South by Southwest on Saturday (it debuted at the Toronto Film Festival last year).
Shot in black-and-white around Whedon’s own Santa Monica home in a mere 12 days, the film, which began as a Shakespeare reading group attended by his inner circle of close friends/actors, is a wondrous feat from the writer-director best known for TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and last summer’s “The Avengers.”
“Much Ado About Nothing” stars many of that inner circle, including Amy Acker (“Angel,” “Dollhouse”) as the fiercely independent Beatrice squaring off against Alexis Denisof (“Buffy”) as Benedick, her reluctant suitor. Fan fave Nathan Fillion (“Firefly,” “Serenity”), steals scenes, as usual, as bumbling police constable Dogberry.
“I have this amazing ensemble,” Whedon, 48, told The Hollywood Reporter shortly before the screening. “But I never wanted to make the movie. I just talked about it idly, until I looked at the text again, and thought, ‘Oh. This is about the way that we’re alone and in pain and manipulated. The way that society expects certain things from us.'”
And even though the play was written by the Bard in the early 1600s, it still manages to be relevant today. “It’s a deconstruction of the romantic comedy that it is inventing, which to me is staggering,” Whedon said. “I think all of the romantic comedies owe something to ‘Much Ado,’ and Shakespeare is critiquing ‘Much Ado’ as he’s writing it.”
Let’s just hope he doesn’t have Beatrice possessed by an evil demon at the end of the movie.
Check out the trailer and see what you think.