The Producers (1968)
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this film depicts two con men trying to steal money from elderly women and unsuspecting theatergoers. The Broadway musical featured in the movie comically champions Nazi beliefs and dogma; the song lyrics contain many references to the glory of "the master race" and other aspects of Nazi ideologies. There are several references to sex and the musical features some suggestively clad females on stage. Because the film has been turned into a high-profile Broadway musical and is being remade for the screen with actors Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, children may be familiar with it and want to see it.
What's the story?
A slapstick comedy-musical starring Gene Wilder, THE PRODUCERS features two con artist/Broadway producers who plot to swindle old women into financing the most awful musical ever staged. Their ultimate goal is to have the musical bomb, pocket all of the receipts, and then disappear to a beach in Rio de Janeiro. To make this dream a reality, Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) and Leo Bloom choose an offensive Nazi love story penned by a German madman, and select a no-talent gay director in order to ensure that the musical flops. The result is "Springtime for Hitler," an absurd musical extravaganza that features scantily clad Bavarian women and a dancing chorus comprised of Nazi soldiers.
Is it any good?
There are moments of this movie that are so bizarre that they are nothing short of hilarious. Nevertheless, appreciating this humor requires that viewers be able to identify the parodic quality of the staged musical. The film allows many opportunities for families to discuss the stereotyped portrayals of various characters, for example, the play's gay director and Bialystock's seemingly, Swedish sex kitten secretary. The moral implications of deceiving others and the potential fallout of going after a quick buck are also good discussion points.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the ethical problems involved in Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom's business practices. Why did they focus their efforts on cheating older women? How did Bialystock convince Bloom to go into business with him? What would you have done if someone offered you a lot of money to cheat others? The content of the play also offers families many opportunities to discuss racism and anti-semitism. Why might some people be offended by the song lyrics, despite their satirical overtones? Furthermore, the director character offers families an opportunity to discuss homosexuality. How does the film portray the character Roger de Bris? Why is he shown wearing a dress? Why might some people be upset about that?