It was supposed to be okay as of yesterday (12.5) to start riffing about The Producers (Universal, 12.16), so where are the trade reviews? Let me be among the first to say that this big swanky movie musical may be square (i.e., in a Mel Brooks time-capsule way, which means square with a certain historical authority) but very entertaining in a brassy and unapologetic Tin Pan Alley fashion. The Broadway musical worked beautifully and this is a stodgy but fervent capturing of that Broadway show …and there’s really nothing to beef about. It plays fine even if you never saw the show but liked the original 1968 Mel Brooks non-singing filmed comedy. Nathan Lane’s Zero Mostel-like Max Bialystock is a raucous ride in itself, and chubby Matthew Broderick is loads of fun as Leo Bloom. A bewigged Uma Thurman really gets into that parody-of-a-broadly-sexual-babe routine that Madeline Kahn used to do for Brooks in the ’70s. Will Ferrell is oafishly tedious in the Kenneth Mars part, and is wearing out his welcome fast. Susan Stroman directed, but of course she didn’t make a move without Mel Brooks’ say-so. The queeny gay humor is “funny” in a vaudevillian sense, but only in Brooksland are gay men portrayed as unregenerate pre-Stonewall effeminates. (You just know that Middle Americans will be more comfortable with this shtick than anything in Brokeback Mountain.) Stranger still is Stroman’s visual sense, or rather the photography by John Bailey and Charles Minsky. The Producers is shot and edited as if it was directed by Henry Koster or Henry King in the mid 1950s. The camera just sits there like it weighs ten tons and can only be moved with herculean effort. You couldn’t get further away from the frenetic visuals of Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge if you tried. There’s nothing “wrong” with an approach that says “this is a story set in 1959 or thereabouts, so let’s make a movie that feels like it was shot back then.” But it’s also just plain old-fogeyish, and I wonder how it will sit with the under-25s.