Much Ado About Nothing

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +3 1/2

Content: -1/2

Kenneth Branagh brings this Shakespearean comedy to vivid life with easily understood dialogue, much as he did in HENRY V. He invests an overabundance of energy into this classic story about mistaken identity and true love. Don Pedro (Denzel Washington) returns to Messina, a small town in Northern Italy. He brings with him his comrades in arms, Claudio (Robert Sean Leonard), Benedick (Kenneth Branagh) and Benedick's half-brother Count John (Keanu Reeves). Claudio immediately falls in love with Hero (Kate Beckinsale), the beautiful young daughter of Lord Leonato (Richard Briers). Benedick, meanwhile, scorns Claudio's soft-heartedness and carries on a battle of wits with the beautiful Beatrice (Emma Thompson). In hilarious scenes, Benedick's friends contrive to plant the seeds of love in both Benedick and Beatrice. At the same time, villainous Count John plans to break up Claudio and Hero. The lush Italian scenery, the energetic plot, and the great acting combine to make this one of the best movies of the summer.

Part of Shakespeare's appeal has always been his "earthiness," and director Kenneth Branagh includes it in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. The opening scene, for example, displays rear nudity when all the women run to the villa to bathe and change before the appearance of the soldiers. This is Branagh's addition to the play and one wonders if the rear female nudity is necessary. The men also take a bath and are shown from the rear. At a night carnival there's a lot of dancing, kissing, and men pinching women. One scene of implied sexual intercourse viewed from an upstairs window has no nudity and is integral to the plot. A few sexual references rush quickly by, and the witless constable (Michael Keaton) is called a crude derogatory name several times. Brief violence ranges from humorous slapstick slapping and poking to pushing Hero and slapping her after her name has been defiled. The nudity in the opening scene and brief sexual intercourse scene make this otherwise wonderful film slightly questionable.

Preview Reviewer: Greg Wilson
Sam Goldwyn Co., 10203 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90067-6403

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Several (7) times - Moderate

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: Exclamatory - Twice

Violence: Few times - Moderate (slapping, poking; girl hit, pulled by hair and pushed down)

Sex: Once - implied (no nudity)

Nudity: Twice (both male and female rear nudity)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times (references to intercourse, women pinched at carnival)

Drugs: None

Other: None

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