Director: Joss Whedon
Stars: Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Clark Gregg, Fran Kranz, Emma Bates, Spencer Treat Clark, Nathan Fillion, Reed Diamond, Riki Lindhome, Sean Maher
Release Date: June 7

Making Hollywood blockbusters is hard work—it'd be understandable if the guy who directed last year's gargantuan smash The Avengers opted to take some time off before shooting his next project. That's not how Joss Whedon works, though.

Rather than sit back and either field offers for more studio fare or go off the grid, Whedon took the less obvious step: He invited a bunch of his best actor-friends over to his Los Angeles house for 12 days and shot a black-and-white, loose, and breezy adaptation of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. And unlike past examples of famous people getting together for some paid playtime (see: Couples Retreat, Grown Ups), Whedon's lo-fi experiment is as much fun to watch as it must've been to produce.

Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing is the ultimate take-it-or-leave-it property: It doesn't need to exist, frankly, and he and his cohorts don't modernize the material so much that Shakespeare's seminal tale feels fresh. But there's nothing wrong with a harmless and spirited homage to a storyteller of Sir Will's caliber, especially when it's delivered with the pleasantries and charm seen here. Not all movies need to be The Avengers.