The fact that the biggest hit on Broadway is based on a 33-year-old film is no surprise to anyone who has seen "The Producers."
Written and directed by Mel Brooks, "The Producers" is comedy at its most irresistibly tasteless. And for those who can't get to New York, or get tickets for it once they get there, you can still rent the lone copy that lurks in major video stores.
So what makes "The Producers" so funny?
It starts with the premise. Max Bialystock, played over the top by Zero Mostel, is a has-been Broadway producer with more flops than successes. Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder in his screen debut) is a nervous accountant who realizes Max has made more money with his flops because he didn't have to pay back his investors.
The odd couple gets a brainstorm. If they come up with a surefire flop, they can keep what they raised after the show closes. But it has to be a flop, or their investors will come looking for their money.
They find a truly awful play called "Springtime for Hitler." They find a truly awful director who wants to change the third act because it's "a downer" that they're losing the war. They find the worst actor, L.S.D. (Dick Shawn), who can hardly remember what play he is in half the time.
But when they put all these awful elements together, the show becomes so bad, it's funny. And then their troubles really begin.
Be forewarned that the film delights in being offensive — to Jews, to Germans, to gays, to women. But it's an equal opportunity offender. And it makes for fun family viewing while you speculate how long it will take a touring version of the show to come to town.