A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A man, Nick Bottom (Fran Kranz), awakes in a forest, alone. He asks the question: Am I dreaming? This begins a tale of conflicted love, sorcery and the impish pranks of Puck (Avan Jogia) in a modern (sort of) adaptation of the Bard’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Laura's Review: B

Casey Wilder Mott's delightful modern day version of Shakespeare's work is perhaps the punniest, most meta adaptation of the bard's output to date. Set in an alternate Hollywood, where the famous sign now spells out 'Athens,' Nick Bottom (Fran Kranz) awakens in its hills determined that his dream be incorporated into the film being made at the AFI (Athens Film Institute) where '2B' is one of its production offices. After Theseus (Ted Levine) intercedes in Hermia's (Rachael Leigh Cook, 1999's "She's All That") romance with photographer Lysander (Hamish Linklater) in an attempt to get her to wed her father's choice, slick entertainment lawyer Demetrius (Finn Wittrock), she and Lysander take off on his motorcycle, but break down on Topanga Canyon Road. Demetrius follows in his sports car, his former love Helena (Lily Rabe) on his heels (in what amounts to a Shakespearean car chase!). Meanwhile the King and Queen of the fairies, Oberon (slam poet Saul Williams) and Titania (Mia Doi Todd), are feuding, so Oberon engages Puck (Avan Jogia) to apply a love potion, also charging him with correcting Demetrius's rejection of Helena. Puck mucks things up for an evening of hilarity which includes changing Bottom, filming 'Pyramus and Thisbe' in the woods as entertainment for Theseus's wedding to Hippolyta (Paz de la Huerta), into an ass. In this version that doesn't mean a donkey and just guess who first catches Titania's enchanted gaze? Mott uses traditional Shakespearean dialogue, interjecting his own asides and modern spins (surfer Puck keeps his VW van a'rockin while Oberon lives in an Airstream trailer). This is a clever adaptation, one which earns a hearty laugh from the sound of a car key fob. The film Quince (Charity Wakefield) delivers to Theseus is an amateurish Star Wars knockoff and the whole wraps in a production office, Puck editing with Final Cut Pro. The cast appear to be having a blast, 'American Horror Story' costars Rabe and Wittrock appearing on screen together for the first time. Grade:

Robin's Review: B

Tyro writer-director Casey Wilder Mott turns William Shakespeare’s bawdy comedy about a romantic quadrangle and magic manipulation into a modern telling with all the trappings of the classic but with a modern spin. I am not going to go into the nuts and bolts of the story for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Go find a synopsis so you can follow the core story by the Bard – the filmmakers maintain the flowery Shakespearian dialog for most of the story. But, there are many aside moments where modern lingo and technology are used, tempering the classic with a new millennium look and feel. The players in this comedy get the Bard’s joke and convincingly roll his words with the lightness and absurdity of the play. It never feels bogged down with heavy dialog. Instead, there is an airiness to the actors’ delivery and the whole cast seems to be having a good time. The combo of classical literature and a modern, hip adaptation of it make for an easy flowing romantic romp that, as it did 400 years ago, will keep its audience entertained. Even if you never read a word of Shakespeare, this fresh update lets the ornate language flow around you so you can just sit back and enjoy the show.