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YMMV / William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet

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  • Angst? What Angst?: Juliet's lament upon learning that Romeo killed her cousin Tybalt is shortened in the film, making it seem as though she immediately forgave him upon hearing about it.
  • Audience-Alienating Premise: Criminal authorities and young bandits, who speak like educated aristocrats of the Elizabethan era? Intentional combination of pretentiousness and eccentricity in the style of MTV 90's? Well, not everyone liked this, yes.
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  • Awesome Music: Some of the scores from the movie are absolutely gorgeous, such as, for example, the sweeping violins from the Balcony Scene.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • The whole Mercutio dance number. Granted, Romeo was high at that point, but it really comes out of nowhere.
    • At the beginning of the dance, Romeo sees that Tybalt kissed Juliet's mother, his aunt. In the future, this has no consequences for the plot or the characters themselves, and it's never mentioned again.
    • Tybalt turning his 'Sword' into a Sniper Pistol and blowing up the whole gas station. It's no less awesome and intense, but it's still bizarre.
  • Broken Base:
    • The whole "guns being called swords" things. Either an amusing way around the text or proof that the whole concept was a dumb idea.
    • The whole concept of MTV-ing Shakespeare in general. While some find that updating story makes it catchy, stylish and gives it a kind of youthful charm, others believe that the combination of Shakespeare with modern settings gives us an incredible World of Ham with a bunch of really pretentious characters. Hilarious in Hindsight since this is exactly how critics felt about THE ORIGINAL PLAY when it was first performed in the 1660s. The earliest known review said "this is the worst play I've ever seen in my entire life," while another reviewer said Mercutio was his favorite character, hands-down.
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  • 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.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Pete Postlethwaite as Father Laurence, due in large part to his actually knowing how Shakespearean dialogue works.
    • Hammy as it was, Harold Perrineau's portrayal of Mercutio is often considered to be one of the best parts of the film and is often cited as one that's truest to the character overall.
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  • Evil Is Cool: John Leguizamo's is probably the most badass version of Tybalt that will ever be put to celluloid.
  • 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. While many reasons have been given (the main being baptism), even the director is not quite sure what all of it is actually supposed to mean.
  • Ham and Cheese: Whether you love it or hate it, Harold Perrineau was having way too much fun playing Mercutio.
  • Heartwarming Moments: The movie's problems aside, most agree that Romeo and Juliet's meeting in this version is genuinely sweet. They spot each other through an aquarium and both are immediately smitten. It's adorable.
  • Ho Yay: The film is simply saturated with this because of the large number of young and attractive half-dressed guys who constantly seem too close to each other. And in addition to everything, it seems that Mercutio in this film is canonically in love with Romeo ...
  • 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; for a scene not meant to be funny, it can't be overstated just how perfect the comedic timing is here. 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 without altering the text: Elizabethan dialogue, spoken in relatively modern times.
    • Romeo losing it at Tybalt right before he kills him. Leonardo DiCaprio'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. Even foreign dubs got affected: 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...
    • On Mercutio:
      • 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.
      • The fact that the actor playing Mercutio is Harold Perrineau aka Michael from Lost. You'd almost expect him to scream WAAAAAAAAAAAAALT!!
    • John Leguizamo's odd lisping delivery, especially if you start thinking of Sid the Sloth.
  • Narm Charm: People who are fans of this film love it for basically the exact reasons the critics hate it. "It's stupid, but it's fun" is a common sentiment.
  • Older Than They Think: The idea of Romeo still being alive when Juliet wakes up and dying in her arms wasn't invented by this movie, but is also found in Italian versions of the story that predate Shakespeare's play, as well as in several 18th century rewrites of the play and at least two opera adaptations, Gounod's Roméo et Juliette and Bellini's I Capuletti e i Montecchi.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Michael (or Augustus Hill, depending on your preferred fandom) plays Mercutio!
    • Hey, look, it's Rotti Largo as Juliet's dad!
    • Paul Rudd plays Paris! Ironically he's one of the few actors in the cast who's actually trained in Shakespeare.
    • Benvolio was featured as the male dancer in an Alanis Morissette video before he was Bunchy Donovan! There's even a scene in the video where he bears a startling resemblance to Tybalt.
    • Latin American telenovela fans might recognize that one of the bouncers at the Capulet party is played by Cuban actor Mario Cimarro, who would later become best known for his appearances in telenovelas and for starring in Pasión de gavilanes.
  • Strangled by the Red String: Romeo and Juliet's Love at First Sight can be hard enough to believe in the original play, but it works because we know it's a convention for old stories. In the '90s setting of the film, without a classical atmosphere, it's harder to take it seriously when Juliet declares "My only love sprung from my only hate" after just a ten-minute meeting scene and one ardent kiss.

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