Much ado about quite a bit, actually

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Joss Whedon’s “Much Ado About Nothing” is just about the sloppiest Shakespeare ever put on the screen, but it may also be the most exhilarating — a profound, crowd-pleasing trifle that reminds you how close Shakespeare’s comedies verge on darkness before pirouetting back into the light.

Shot in 12 days at the director’s home, it’s a modern-dress version that goes heavy on the whimsy, but it has in Alexis Denisof and especially Amy Acker a Benedick and Beatrice who are both funny and tremendously moving. As Dogberry, Nathan Fillion lets the character’s pompous mangling of the English language carry the comedy — he’s Michael Scott of “The Office” lost in Shakespeare-land. The film sidles up to the abyss, looks over, and dances gratefully away.

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