Picks and Pans Review: The Producers

updated 01/09/2006 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/09/2006 AT 01:00 AM EST

Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman, Will Ferrell, Gary Beach
MUSICAL

The verdict on The Producers from this side of the footlights: It isn't as joyously vibrant as Chicago, but it sure outkicks the banal Rent. A movie version of the 2001 smash Broadway musical that was itself based on Mel Brooks's 1967 film comedy, it features Lane and Broderick lovingly re-creating their stage roles as larcenous theatrical producers who mount what they hope will be a colossal Broadway flop. The duo's vehicle of choice: Springtime for Hitler, a musical saluting the F├╝hrer.

Producers offers many of the pleasures of the stage show but is at times dragged down by hewing too slavishly to it. Judicious pruning, such as sacrificing musical numbers that don't work on- screen, would have made the film zippier. Though uneven, the movie is more hit than miss, particularly anytime a sexy Thurman parades about as Ulla, a ditzy Swedish bombshell. Playing the wacko Nazi who wrote Springtime, Ferrell is excessively broad, sputtering like Sgt. Schultz on old reruns of Hogan's Heroes. (PG-13)

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