Parents' Guide to

Much Ado About Nothing

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Joss Whedon makes teen-friendly Shakespeare; some drinking.

Movie PG-13 2013 109 minutes
Much Ado About Nothing Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 14+

It's Shakespeare so...

I liked this version of Much Ado. If I wanted to be picky...Conrade and Benedick weren't great. But overall it was very good. Very modern and classy. However, it's Shakespeare so... there's some language and a lot of suggestive dialogue. Admittedly it takes a couple times to discover most of the content. There's a bit of violence that could frighten younger children (though they probably wouldn't have much interest anyways) - a father smacks his adult daughter, a faux funeral procession. Also, there's one scene of implied sexual content. Nothing's explicit but there's an overtone that Don Jon may have forced himself on his lover. Overall it's a lovely film. Beautifully shot and well acted. But probably not appropriate...or interesting...for most young teens and below.

This title has:

Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
age 13+

Much Ado for adults

A dark, more mature take than the joyous Branagh version, in cool black and white with more sinister overtones. Everything works out in the end, just barely, but there's an underlying sense of menace. Implied casual sex and LOTS of drinking. I think of this as the "nice" version of Taming of the Shrew; the same battle of the sexes banter, except both parties end up giving a little and neither is totally humiliated or subjugated. Hero and Claudio may be the Dullest Lovers in Shakespeare, but who could resist the reluctantly lovesick Benedict: "I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is that not strange?" Yes, wondrously strange. And wonderful that this is a story of two former lovers who broke each other's hearts, and must conquer their mutual distrust before the happy ending. A mature Romeo and Juliet, no longer starry eyed, but old enough to know what they're doing and yet still fall rapturously in love.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3):
Kids say (1):

Unassumingly enjoyable and low-key, Much Ado works because it lets Shakespeare's words take center stage, eschewing the usual pomp and circumstance. On paper, a black-and-white version of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing filmed in a fraction of time it takes to make a typical movie and featuring ex-vampire slayers running around a circa-2010s Los Angeles house might not sound like a very good idea. But, to borrow from the Bard: "He hath indeed better bettered expectation."

Still, here's one complaint: rendering it in black-and-white feels superfluous, even distracting. And another: Though it's novel and offbeat for director Joss Whedon to have filmed the movie in his own home, doing so feels somewhat claustrophobic. Shakespeare's work needs a more expansive set. The best part of the movie is Acker, who leaves the rest of the cast -- except perhaps for Nathan Fillion, who kills as the bumbling Dogberry -- in her wake. Her Beatrice is soulful and cutting and very, very funny. Benedick stands no chance with her in the role.

Movie Details

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