Cult Classic: Critical reception was mixed; some people hated it for not taking itself seriously like previous adaptations, or how the dialogue clashed with the setting. Many fans have argued that Romeo and Juliet wasn't exactly high-brow entertainment in the first place and William Shakespeare himself would approve of the movie if he were alive. Many schools present this movie as a way of introducing students to Shakespeare because it is actually one of the most faithful film adaptations of Romeo and Juliet out there. It keeps nearly all the original dialogue but re-skins it with modern aesthetics.
Ear Worm: The entire soundtrack, special mention to the infamously catchy "Lovefool".
Faux Symbolism: Water as the overarching motif (the first shot of Juliet is of her face underwater, the lovers meets across an aquarium, the balcony scene is reset in a swimming pool, Tybalt dies after toppling into a fountain, etc), along with ubiquitous Catholic symbols. And even the director is not quite sure what all of it is actually supposed to mean.
Love It or Hate It: The concept. It's either creative and unique or nonsensical and annoying.
Narm: The guns named after swords were ridiculous enough. "Fetch me my longsword!" Cue a shotgun...
Made even better by the fact that the full line is "Fetch me my longsword, ho!" He's talking to his wife.
Juliet waking from her faked death just in time for Romeo to realize he goofed (it does come across in the acting) did slip from tragedy to black comedy. Her seeing his dead body is also meant to be moving and tragic but is rendered hilarious by Clare Danes' terrible crying.
Then there's the occupational hazard of all Shakespearean adaptations relocated to relatively modern times: Elizabethan dialogue spoken in relatively modern times.
Romeo losing it at Tybalt right before he kills him. Leo's overacting is almost painful, and it's nearly impossible to understand what the hell he's saying when he's screaming that loudly. The way he yells "EITHER THOU, OR I, OR BOTH MUST GO WITH HIM!" over and over, you half expect Tybalt to shout "STOP SAYING THAT!" And it all culminates in Romeo's hilariously overdone scream as he unloads his gun into Tybalt.
The Swedish version didn't subtitle that. Either the translators didn't find it important enough, or they simply couldn't hear what he was shouting...
Mercutio crossdressing in a silver, glittery tube top and miniskirt... Then pulling Romeo's invitation to the party from the bottom of said miniskirt. After seeing that, it's impossible to take his death scene seriously.
Even more hilarious when you realize that the dude playing Mercutio is Harold Perrineau aka Michael from Lost. You'd almost expect him to scream WAAAAAAAAAAAAALT!!
Romeo's reaction to Mercutio's death makes the scene all the more heartbreaking - he holds his best friend's body to his chest, sobbing in impotent fury. Then he stands, holds his head in his hands, then slowly starts running towards his car, ignoring Benvolio's pleads to stop...
For that matter, look at Tybalt's face in that moment. As his anger subsides, he looks soberly at what he's done, and you almost want to give him a hug. His life of passion and mayhem just imploded by his own hand, and you can see in his eyes he's stuck somewhere between sheer panic and genuine remorse. Mercutio wasn't who he hated or wanted to see dead, and while him bolting doesn't win him a whole hell of a lot of sympathy, he clearly regrets the deed.
Then there's poor Benvolio, probably the most innocent and well-meaning character in the play, and he either fails or is ignored at every turn. He tries to keep peace at Phoenix Gas, it ends in a shootout. Tries to cheer up Romeo, sets his doom in motion. Tries to preemptively diffuse another dust up, Mercutio is killed. He tries to keep Romeo from doing something rash, two more shootouts and a botched funeral scheme resulting in Tybalt, Romeo and Juliet all meeting violent ends. All are indeed punished, but it's surprising Benvolio doesn't turn a gun on himeslf too when all's said and done.
The ending, which wouldn't have happened if Romeo had just looked down and seen Juliet waking up.
As the camera slowly pans outwards in the chapel of rest scene, with the unbearably sad Liebestod from Wagner's 'Tristan und Isolde' playing as we're shown clips of the pair in happier times.