"Do you know who I used to be?" the smoking jacket-clad Max Bialystock asks his new accountant, Leo Bloom. Indeed, Leo does know all about the Max Bialystock of yore – producer of the kind of sub-Ziegfeld revues that kept a million chorus girls in their stay-ups and off the Depression streets – and so should you, really, because this story has already been told several times. But by the time Nathan Lane gets to broadcast this primal roar for attention, Max's glory is long gone, and Leo has, in fact, only nebbished his way over in button-down blue to paint Max's red books black. It takes the boys three production numbers to get there, but eventually, Max and Leo cook up a scheme to raise $2 million to produce a terrible musical called Springtime for Hitler. Safe in the knowlege that they can't be forced to pay back investors if they can't prove a profit, they then plan to take the seed money and run off to Rio when the thing flops. Need I say it doesn't all go according to plan?
This incarnation of The Producers (I know needn't tell you that this is a film, based on a milquetoast/successful Broadway musical, based in turn on Mel Brooks' best film) is less a satire of show business than an indictment of creative accounting with songs and jokes thrown in. In any other year, director Susan Stroman's effort might have been the most noteworthy picture about accounting to see wide release; but, working in the shadow of Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, The Producers is left to scramble for a distant second place. It might have been a fairer fight, but frankly, the documentary had better tunes.