Sean Maher in Much Ado About Nothing.

The Bard gets stripped down by one of the most unlikely candidates: Joss Whedon, recently the maker of massively expensive geek-boy extravaganzas.

The man who gave us The Avengers got his buddies together at his house to shoot a rather pleasant black-and-white take on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, just to show that things don’t have to explode all the time in his cinematic forays. The result is intimate, funny and even unique, considering the play that has been adapted many, many times.

The film was shot in less than two weeks, an extension of parties Whedon hosted with friends and colleagues that featured Shakespeare readings. Consequently, it has the look of a quaint dinner party, with women in sundresses and men in tailored suits. It’s a breezy experiment that works for most of its running time.

After impressing Whedon at one of his shindigs, Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof are awarded the plum parts of Beatrice and Benedick, the reluctant lovers who fall for each other in the most whimsical of ways.

Much Ado About Nothing is now playing at the Camelot Theatres (2300 E. Baristo Road, Palm Springs; 760-325-6565) and the Century Theatres at The River (71800 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage; 760-836-1940).