Much Ado About Nothing: The Bard gets a stripped-down treatment from one of the most unlikely of candidates: Joss Whedon, recent maker of massively expensive geek extravaganzas. The man who gave us The Avengers got his buddies together at his house to shoot a rather reputable and very pleasant black-and-white take on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, just to show us that things don’t have to explode all of the time in his cinematic forays. The result is intimate, funny and even unique for a play that’s been adapted many times. The film was shot in less than two weeks, an extension of parties Whedon hosted with friends and colleagues that featured Shakespeare readings. Consequently, it has the look of a quaint dinner party, with women in sundresses and men in tailored suits. It’s a breezy experiment that works for most of its running time. Having impressed Whedon at one of his shindigs, Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof are awarded the plum parts of Beatrice and Benedick, the reluctant lovers who fall for each other in the most whimsical of ways.

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