Romeo + Juliet (1996)

Drinking Game

Take a Drink: for fucking awful sound effects

Take a Drink: for dramatic poses

Take a Drink: for TV exposition

Take a Drink: for every classic line you remember from school

Take a Drink: whenever Juliet’s maid screeches her name

Do a Shot: for major character deaths

Community Review

How many beers do you recommend for this movie?
1 Beer! A Toast! Great Movie!2 Beers! Good Movie!3 Beers! Okay Movie!4 Beers! Mediocre Movie!5 Beers! Awful Movie!6-Pack! Bad movie! Do not be Sober!

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Movie Review

By: Henry J. Fromage (Four Beers) –

When Baz Luhrmann set out to adapt Romeo and Juliet, you knew that it was going to be something brassy, brash, and out of the norm.  His approach was to imagine what kind of movie Shakespeare himself would make to entertain the masses.  He was a quintessential showman on the good hand…

The_Theatre_later_The_Globe

…and on the bad, this was his audience.

Romeo + Juliet updates the classic play to a quasi-modern, heightened “Verona Beach”, California setting, with the Capulets and Montagues re-imagined as feuding gangs, but all of the original dialogue and narration of the play retained.

A Toast

We’ve seen quite a few updated setting/original script Shakespeare adaptations over the years, from Michael Almereyda’s uneven Hamlet to Ralph Fiennes’s rather excellent Coriolanus, but as usual, few directors can match the dizzying visuals of a Baz Luhrmann spectacular.  His Verona Beach is a candy-colored daydream, kinetic, ridiculous, but often extremely beautiful.  The set design, from his longtime professional and life partner, Catherine Martin, is, as always, incredible, and Kym Barrett’s costuming is eye-catching.  The cinematography from DP Donald McAlpine, especially when the editing relaxes and lets it really make an impression, is similarly top-notch.

Acting-wise, the strength of a Romeo and Juliet adaptation relies almost entirely on its leads, and baby-faced Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes do not disappoint.  Both would of course go on to do better work, but you can see the foundations of their success here.  My favorite cast-member, though, is hands-down Harold Perrineau as Mercutio.  He has energy for days, and performs the difficult trick of breathing new life into old words, arguably the only actor to do that in this film.  Oh, and of course Paul Rudd nails his first stab at Bobby Newport.

RomeoJuliet1996_paul-rudd

Attractive and vapid?  Nailed it!

Beer Two

Well, somebody watched Natural Born Killers… This film is cut to an inch of its life, but without any of the relevance of its clear inspiration.  This editing overload also creates some frankly impressive shrill anti-comedy, like, well, everything having to do with Juliet’s mother.

Beer Three

Let’s go back to the thesis of the introduction for a second.  By masses, Luhrmann apparently means dumb mouth-breathing punters, like, you know, Shakespeare’s audience, because for the life of me I can’t imagine who else would think sub-morning drive radio show sound effects are funny.  Apparently Luhrmann didn’t imagine what the common audience today likes so much as what an English peasant Encino Man’d into the present day would.

monty-python-peasants

How exceedingly droll!  *loud fart*

Beer Four

He also has zero confidence in our ability to follow the story or his exceedingly clever updates to it.  See: the character title cards (Juliet’s Mother, Romeo’s Father, etc.), or the closeups on and allusions to gun brands.

monty-python-peasants

How exceedingly illuminating! *longer, wetter fart*

Verdict

Rome + Juliet betrays just how low Baz Luhrmann’s opinion of mainstream cinema is, but rises above that in acting and world-building enough to make it worth the watch.

a4Beers

About Henry J. Fromage

Movieboozer is a humor website and drinking games are intended for entertainment purposes only, please drink responsibly.

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