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Joss Whedon, with a 12-day window in his schedule, did what any tent pole director would do — now assigned to guide the overall game plan for the Marvel Movie Universe — he brought a collection of actors to his home to shoot a modern adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. That he also chose to stick with the original dialogue, while in this contemporary setting, sounds like a challenge someone issued to Whedon (thinking this would increase the degree of difficulty), but it played right into his unique strength.

Whedon and his cast have an innate ear for detecting and exposing the truth in what these characters are revealing about themselves and the human condition. Anchored by accessible and completely lived-in performances by Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker, Much Ado might prove to audiences not all that eager to delve into the great bard’s works that Shakespeare’s tale was truly about something – namely, love. (PG-13) Grade: B+