The Merry Wives of Windsor
Neither among the best nor among the worst of Shakespeare’s comedies, The Merry Wives of Windsor has enjoyed a fairly steady popularity since it was written in 1597, largely due to the fact that its principal character is Sir John Falstaff, who is chiefly known for the part he plays in the Henry IV plays and (offstage) in Henry V. Falstaff was a great favorite with theater-goers during Shakespeare’s lifetime, and the audiences apparently clamored incessantly for more material involving the portly and somewhat scandalous knight. Here his function is purely comic and somewhat bawdy: his agenda is to make back his lost fortunes by seducing various of the wealthy wives of Windsor. He encounters one setback after another, and eventually it becomes clear that the women have outmaneuvered him in every particular. Some parental caution is probably advisable here.
The plot of The Merry Wives of Windsor turns almost entirely on character — specifically the character of Sir John himself. The comparison of his character as depicted here, as compared to the more robust and interesting character of the Henry IV plays, is itself noteworthy. He has become a fairly one-dimensional butt of an ongoing joke by this point. There is little that any film version can do to rescue him from this flatness of character, though some later adaptations may supply a little more nuance. Overall, though, it probably shouldn’t be expected.