Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Private Romeo (2011) DVD Review



Private Romeo (2011) stars Matt Doyle, Seth Numrich, Hale Appleman, Charlie Barnett, Adam Barrie, Chris Bresky Sean Hudock and Bobby Moreno. It was directed by Alan Brown. This film sets Romeo And Juliet in a modern-day military school, with an all-male cast.

Act I

It opens with military students reading the play in a classroom. The first line of the film is Lady Capulet’s “Marry, that ‘marry’ is the very theme I came to talk of.” The three men playing Lady Capulet, Juliet and the Nurse are standing. After Lady Capulet’s “already made mothers,” the bell rings. After the film’s title, we return to that scene, with the Servingman’s line, “Madame, the guests are come.” And the students gather their belongings and leave the classroom after “We follow thee.” Then in the bathroom, some of the guys continue, doing the Benvolio/Romeo scene. But Benvolio says, “Good morrow, Romeo” rather than “Good morrow, cousin.” Of course, Romeo’s line about loving a woman takes on a different tone. And it seems here that they truly are Romeo and Benvolio, not students rehearsing.

The students line up for an announcement “For those of you who did not qualify for the land navigation exercises and are remaining here on campus, you will be under the command of Cadet Moreno and myself. There will be no officers or faculty on campus for the next four days.” So that’s how the film gets rid of the majority of the students – those who won’t be needed for the story. Also, that’s how it sets up the four-day period, which is approximately the amount of time that passes in the play. However, it also gives us a somewhat negative view of the characters, as they’re the few who didn’t qualify for some special exercises, and so are not the best students. The remaining students continue with their classes, so we go back to the reading of the play, going to Act I Scene iv, starting with Mercutio’s line, “Take our good meaning, for our judgment sits.” As soon as he says “Queen Mab,” the bell rings and class is dismissed. But some of the guys then go into the party scene. Josh Neff, who was reading Mercutio, suddenly becomes Romeo, grabbing another guy and asking “What lady’s that which doth enrich the hand of yonder knight?” After “burn bright,” they go into the hallway, and then the boy who was reading Romeo in the class takes on Romeo’s lines again.

The next day they continue, with the Nurse’s line about her maidenhead. We get just a little of that scene. Then that night, three boys sneak down the stairs, and we are in Act I Scene iv, beginning with Romeo’s “And we mean well in going to this masque.” And this time we get the Queen Mab speech. It starts in the stairwell, but continues outside. The speech takes on a more serious, urgent tone as Mercutio gets to the lines about the soldier. Oddly, Mercutio says, “I talk of dreams,” leaving out the word “True,” which gives the line a different meaning.

The party is a poker game. Romeo, Mercutio and Benvolio do not arrived masked. Once they arrive, they then go back to the earlier dialogue from the scene, starting with Mercutio’s “Nay, gentle Romeo, we must have you dance.” It’s interesting, because when Romeo pulls Benvolio aside to ask who the lady is, are we to believe they’re now completely in the realm of the play? After all, these cadets all know each other. So his asking a question he clearly knows the answer to gives a sense that they’re just playing at this, that they’re not living it. (A clue, however, can be found in this closing credit: “inspired by Joe Calarco’s ‘Shakespeare’s R & J’” – for in that play the characters begin by reading the parts and then partway through really become them, or at least fully commit to them.) The boy he indicates as Juliet is alone, so the line “enrich the hand of yonder knight” doesn’t really make sense. At the poker table, Tybalt indicates Romeo to Capulet, while Romeo is off talking with Juliet. Then when we go to Romeo and Juliet, they speak some lines not from the play before going into “If I profane with my unworthiest hand.” Romeo goes to kiss Juliet’s neck after “with a tender kiss,” but Juliet backs off, saying “Hey.” It’s nice, because then Romeo really is trying to convince Juliet to let him kiss her with his next several lines. And they do kiss. The handheld camera moves a bit too much in this scene. It should be still and let the actors do their thing. Of course, everyone at the poker table is able to watch this, giving the scene a very different feel. The kiss is interrupted, and then Benvolio urges Romeo to leave.

Act II

The conjuring of Romeo is done in a relatively dark hall (so we can’t really see Mercutio’s face for most of it). We do see Romeo crouching in the shadows. Though they’re in a hallway, Benvolio still says “trees.” Light comes from one of the rooms, leading to Romeo’s “Soft, what light.” Romeo sneaks into the classroom. Juliet has her back to Romeo and begins the “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo” speech. They use the Q2 reading, “by any other word.” Though the scene is done in a classroom, Juliet still says the line about the orchard walls. Several lines are cut. After Juliet’s “So thou wilt woo,” it goes right to Romeo’s “If my heart’s dear love,” losing all of the stuff about swearing by the moon. Again, the camera is unable to remain still, which is annoying. The Nurse calls, “Juliet” from the classroom door. Because they’re in a classroom, not separated, they’re able to kiss. Juliet has the “parting is such sweet sorrow” line.

Then we leave the play for a few minutes, with a boy tied up, and then the company being reprimanded in the morning.

Then we go to the Friar scene, which happens in a hallway. Romeo has to say “Good morrow, Friar Lawrence” twice. All the lines about Rosaline are cut.

The Benvolio/Mercutio scene is done in the weight room. Romeo enters almost immediately so cut are all the lines about Tybalt. (One thing that doesn’t quite work in this version is the absence of two clear houses. There is no ancient grudge.) Nurse enters, and knows who Romeo is, so almost immediately says, “I desire some confidence with you.” Mercutio repeats “Lady” to the Nurse, as if teasing the male character, acknowledging that he’s really a man. It’s interesting, because of course in Shakespeare’s time all the parts were played by men, so it’s sort of a meta-theatrical joke, though here all the men are dressed as men, though still addressed as “Lady” and “Juliet” and so on. Peter is cut from this scene. And then Nurse and Romeo and interrupted by two other soldiers who call them by their proper names, causing Romeo and Nurse to stand at attention. So it’s like they’re living in two worlds at once. The cadets are told to do forty pushups.

It’s interesting, because the intrusion of this reality is what causes Nurse to be late. So when we cut to Juliet, anxiously awaiting the Nurse’s return, we know the reason for her tardiness. And the reason is the intrusion of the real world on the world of the play. And we also know why the Nurse is tired and out of breath. A very interesting way of doing it. The “Where is your mother” line seems to have no reason or cause in this version, and so the humor of it is lost.

Then oddly we have a brief classroom scene, where they are once again reading from Act I Scene iii of the play, with the Nurse’s speech about Juliet’s age. This is a flashback, as the Nurse remembers. The film then goes to the Friar/Romeo scene.

Act III

The first scene takes place on an indoor basketball court, and begins with Mercutio’s “Thou art like one of one these fellows.” But since the entire opening brawl is cut, we haven’t learned of Benvolio’s peaceful nature, so the meaning of these lines is not as clear. Then two men come in, and we go back to Benvolio’s opening lines of the scene, and those lead to Mercutio’s “By my heel, I care not.” Tybalt takes the basketball, shoots a basket, then says, “Gentlemen, a word with one of you.” Though no one else is in the gym, Benvolio still says “Here all men’s eyes gaze on us.” On Tybalt’s “turn and draw” he raises his fists; he doesn’t pull out a sword. But Romeo still says “put thy rapier up.” Tybalt punches Mercutio. “A plague on both your houses” doesn’t quite work, because what houses is he referring to? Benvolio leaves Mercutio and goes to Romeo. He says, “Romeo,” but does not say that Mercutio is dead. But Romeo still says his response: “This day’s black fate on moe days doth depend.” Tybalt returns, and Romeo says the line about Mercutio’s soul being a little bit above their heads, meaning that he’s dead. From a punch? Tybalt and Romeo have a fist fight. Romeo knocks Tybalt down, and Benvolio urges him to go. But Tybalt is simply in pain, not dead.

When the Prince asks “Where are the vile beginners of this fray,” there is a red light flashing as if a police car is nearby, though they’re inside the gym. When Benvolio says, “that slew your kinsmen, brave Mercutio,” he glances over at Mercutio, who is not dead, but holding his head in pain. Benvolio speaks Montague’s lines in this scene.

The first few lines of Juliet’s speech are cut. Nurse says, “he’s dead,” regarding Tybalt. Most of that scene is cut, including the great “cousin”/“husband” lines.

In the Friar scene, the Nurse says that Juliet cries out Romeo’s name, but doesn’t mention that she cries Tybalt as well. And that’s a problem with this adaptation. There seems to be no relation between Juliet and Tybalt. The ring the Nurse gives Romeo from Juliet is a rubber bracelet.

We then go to the morning with Romeo and Juliet in bed. There is no lark sound. Oddly, Juliet’s lines when she urges Romeo to go are cut. So it seems she’s okay with Romeo dying. It’s the Nurse’s “Madam” which gets Romeo out of bed. Romeo climbs out the window.

Then it cuts to a classroom scene, where Paris asks Capulet about his suit, and again it’s a memory, this time of Juliet’s. We then go back to Juliet in her chamber, with Lady Capulet entering, and now suddenly Paris is mentioned. Juliet says “it shall be Romeo,” but doesn’t add “whom you know I hate.” Juliet says “on my knees” but doesn’t get on her knees.

Act IV

We leave the play for a moment, and go to one of the cadets in charge on the phone. He says, “He’s fine.” Then, “He was treated in the emergency room.” So he’s likely talking about Tybalt.

The Friar/Juliet scene begins with Juliet’s line “Come weep with me.” The film goes straight from that scene to Juliet taking the potion. Juliet drinks the potion after the “holy man” line. Juliet then continues: “How if, when I am laid into the tomb.” Juliet does have the line about her cousin’s ghost. After “I drink to thee,” Juliet drinks more.

Act V

Benvolio goes to Romeo to tell him of Juliet’s death. Romeo’s first speech of this act is cut. Romeo immediately runs to Juliet’s body. The Apothecary and Paris are cut. The scene with the two friars is likewise cut. So Romeo picks up the canteen that Juliet used and says, “Here’s to my love.” Of course, that means he’s not really killing himself. So most of his great speech is cut. He lies with Juliet.

We have a bit with Friar and Benvolio. Friar goes into the room, after Benvolio takes off (in place of Balthasar). Juliet wakes when Friar arrives. Juliet thinks Romeo is dead. The “cup closed” line is cut. Juliet kisses Romeo, and Romeo wakes. So this is quite different from the play. And thus the rest of the play is cut. Instead, there is a song at the end.

Time: 98 minutes

Special Features

The DVD includes several special features, including a commentary track by director Alan Brown and cast member Seth Numrich. The director talks about how it's the Queen Mab speech which propels the film into the Romeo And Juliet world. They talk about how Friar Lawrence is the campus drug dealer with a key to the chemistry lab. Approximately forty-seven minutes into the film, Seth leaves and cast member Matt Doyle takes over. They do talk about the odd doubling toward the end, with Capulet and Lady Capulet. They also talk about the troubles with cutting Paris as a character but still mentioning him. And they talk about the song at the end.

There are some deleted scenes, most of which are not related to the play and are more about how Moreno acts while left in charge. But one scene starts with two students reading the play in their room. We hear one say "Unlucky," and then the other reads, "Whose unlucky piteous overthrows doth with their," before Cadet Moreno interrupts them. The line is from the Chorus' opening speech: "Whose misadventured piteous overthrows/Doth with their death bury their parents' strife."

There is a behind-the-scenes featurette, with footage from the last day of shooting and some interviews with cast and crew, as well as some behind-the-scenes web clips.

The film's trailer says, "In McKinley Military Academy, where we lay our scene." And then: "From ancient grudge breaks to new mutiny."

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Midsummer Night's Dream (1909) DVD Review



A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1909) stars William V. Ranous, Maurice Costello, Gladys Hulette, Rose Tapley. It was directed by J. Stuart Blackton and Charles Kent. This is a very early, short silent film version of the play.

Act I

An opening title card describes the first scene: “The Duke of Athens, soon to be married to Hippolyta, decrees that his subject, Hermia, shall give up her lover, Lysander, and shall marry Demetrius whom her father has chosen. The lovers decide to elope. They are followed by Demetrius and by Helena in love with Demetrius.” And we see a little of this in a wide shot. A title card then tells of the tradesmen who are rehearsing a play. The parts are handed out. Flute touches his face to indicate he has a beard coming in, and Bottom keeps taking center stage.

Act II

This film deviates from the play a bit with this odd title card: “Titania, queen of the fairies, quarrels with Penelope. Penelope plans to avenge herself and sends Puck for an herb which when placed upon the eyes of a sleeper, will cause him to love the first creature whom he sees upon awakening.” Penelope? Are we to believe Titania is a lesbian in this version, in love with Penelope rather than Oberon? It seems so. And the changeling they argue over is also female in this version. Puck is likewise female. And there is an early special effect as she flies off and puts a girdle round the earth. We see Puck find the flower and fly back to Penelope. Titania then sleeps and Penelope puts the flower’s potion on her eyes.

A title card reads: “The eloping lovers become weary in the forest. Puck places the magic herb upon the eyes of Hermia and Lysander. Lysander awakes and falls in love with Helena.” Wait, Puck puts the magic herb on Hermia’s eyes too? Hermia tells Lysander to lie farther off. So a tree is between them. And no, contrary to what the card says, Puck does not rub the flower on Hermia’s eyes. Demetrius then walks right by Lysander and Hermia, which is odd, as he is seeking Hermia. Helena is right behind him, and when Demetrius indicates he doesn’t want her following him, she stops, and Lysander wakes.

Act III

A title card reads: “The tradesmen come to the forest to rehearse their play. Puck changes the weaver into an ass. Titania wakes and falls in love with him.” And in a wide shot we see the rehearsal. Quince and Bottom are at odds, and there’s a wonderful moment where Bottom tosses down his script, and all the others convince him to continue. Bottom gets a full donkey head. Puck watches from behind a tree as Titania wakes and falls for him. Suddenly the fairies appear, played by three young girls. Puck then tells Penelope the good news. And then comes the strangest cut in the film. The camera remains in place, and Penelope and Puck are replaced by Helena and Hermia, arguing in the spot where Penelope and Puck were just standing. Puck then leads Demetrius and Lysander around until they sleep, at Puck’s urging. The girls too are then put to sleep by Puck. By the way, all of this takes place in daylight, not at night.

Act IV

The title card reads: “Penelope discovers the mischief that has been done. She restores the weaver to his normal shape and happily unites the lovers.” Bottom and Titania recline against a tree. One of the fairies scratches Bottom’s nose, which is a nice touch. When Titania wakes, she embraces Penelope, and the two walk off together, Penelope’s arm around Titania. Puck then restores Bottom’s head.

Theseus, Hippolyta, Egeus and the train then come upon the lovers.

Meanwhile the tradesmen are outside at a fountain, frantic because Bottom has not arrived. But Bottom soon shows up.

The film ends there. Act V apparently has been lost from what I read, not cut initially.

Time: 11 1/2 minutes

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Romeo Must Die (2000) DVD Review



Romeo Must Die  (2000) stars Jet Li, Aaliyah Haughton, Delroy Lindo, and Isaiah Washington. It was directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak.  This film is a very loose adaptation of Romeo And Juliet, set in modern day Oakland, with the two warring families as a black and Asian family. The opening brawl takes place in a club, and is dominated by martial arts, awful dialogue and even worse music. (One problem with this film is its music. It’s all terrible – the score, as well as every song chosen for its soundtrack.) Anyway, the fight begins because of Po’s presence in what is essentially a black club. Po’s murdered body is then discovered the next day. Isaak O’Day (Delroy Lindo), the head of the black family, did not order the hit, and orders an investigation into who did. He also calls for a meeting with the head of the Sing family. The meeting goes well, but Isaak understandably orders one of his men, Maurice, to be a bodyguard for his daughter, Trish (Aaliyah Haughton). Meanwhile in a Hong Kong prison, Han Sing (Jet Li) is told of his brother Po’s murder, and manages to escape in order to go to Oakland to learn what happened. Trish gives Maurice the slip in a terrible scene in a music store, and jumps into the back of a taxi that Han had just stolen. They flirt a bit, and she realizes right away that he stole the taxi. Later, following a lead he got at his dead brother’s apartment, Han shows up at the place where Trish works just as she’s leaving. So he follows her home, and enters her apartment. When Maurice and the gang show up, he has to fight his way out, but makes sure he doesn’t actually kill anyone. Colin, Trish’s brother, is killed, so Han and Trish team up to discover who killed their brothers. It all has to do with a deal to sell some waterfront property to the NFL. At one point, Han does sneak in through Trisha’s window. And at the end, Mac (Isaiah Washington) actually calls Han “Romeo.” He says, “Sorry, Romeo, but you gotta die.” Romeo doesn’t die in this version. Neither does Juliet.

The two elements that make this film worth watching are Jet Li’s action scenes, which are mostly cool (though the football scene is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen), and Delroy Lindo’s performance as Isaak O’Day. I always enjoy watching Delroy Lindo. Most of the other actors in this film are unbearably bad, though partly it’s the fault of the ridiculous dialogue they’re given.

Time: 115 minutes

(The DVD’s special features include a behind-the-scenes look, and in an interview Aaliyah does mention Romeo And Juliet at one point.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tromeo And Juliet (1996) DVD Review



Tromeo & Juliet  (1996) stars Jane Jensen, Will Keenan, Valentine Miele, Maximillian Shaun, Steve Gibbons, Sean Gunn, Debbie Rochon, Flip Brown. It was written by James Gunn and Lloyd Kaufman, and directed by Lloyd Kaufman. This is a modern and loose adaptation of Romeo And Juliet, taking place in New York rather than Verona.

There is an introduction recorded for the tenth anniversary edition DVD that includes this fart joke: “Farting is such sweet sorrow.” That sort of sets the tone, but sometimes this film really does rise above that. There are some truly nice moments. And of course there is a lot of silliness.

The opening shot shows a dead animal hanging from the ceiling with this note attached to it: “Monty Q sucks.” The Chorus speaks from the street: “In fair Manhattan where we lay our scene.” While the Chorus speaks, we’re introduced to The House Of Que, which is clearly poor. There live Monty Que (Montague in the play), Benny Que (the Benvolio character), Murray Martini (the Mercutio character), and Tromeo. The House of Capulet is richer, and there live Cappy Capulet (Juliet’s father), Ingrid Capulet (Juliet’s mother), Tyrone Capulet (Tybalt), Sammy Capulet (Samson), Ness (Nurse), and of course Juliet. Right away Tromeo and Juliet seem the only sane characters in the story.

Act I

This version opens in a club. Sammy flirts with his sister Georgie, offering her some crystal meth. Tromeo and Murray are at a body piercing parlor. Tromeo talks about Rosy (Rosaline) and says he’s happy when he’s with her. So in this version she has in fact responded favorably to his advances. Tromeo comes home to see his father on the floor. Monty says, “Tromeo, Tromeo, wherefore art thou, Tromeo?” So you can add this film to the list of adaptations that have no idea what the word “wherefore” means. Meanwhile Sammy has a brawl with Murray, so quite a bit different from the play. Sammy gives him the finger rather than biting his thumb at him. That leads to Murray cutting off a couple of his fingers. Rosy is fooling around with another guy, and when Tromeo calls her, she mentions the costume party. When Capulet asks for his crossbow, his wife brings him his violin bow (a little play on the exchange in Romeo And Juliet where Capulet asks for his long sword and his wife says he should rather ask for a crutch).

On Juliet’s bed is an open copy of The Yale Shakespeare (a copy of which, coincidentally, is also open on my bed while I watch the DVD). Ness talks to Juliet about her arranged marriage to London Arbuckle (the Paris character from the play – get it? London in place of Paris), who runs a meat factory. Juliet is unhappy about the match. Ness helps Juliet forget by making out with her. Meanwhile Tromeo is looking through a stack of Shakespeare interactive discs (Et Tu Blowjob, The Merchant Of Penis, As You Lick It, and Much Ado About Humping). He selects As You Lick It. A cartoon image of Shakespeare winking appears on his computer screen.

This film actually gives us a back story on the feud. Monty and Cappy were once friends but had a falling out, so it’s not an ancient grudge. Ingrid Capulet used to be married to Monty. Capulet is really portrayed as the villain in this adaptation, beating his wife, tormenting his daughter. Detective Ernie Scalus (Prince Escalus) speaks to Monty and Cappy: “The next time there is blood spilled…” But he doesn’t threaten them with death, as in the play. When the Ques drive off with Sammy stuck in their car window, Cappy yells after Monty, “You villainous, abominable kidnaper of youth!” Then he turns to the camera and says, “Henry IV, Act II, Scene iv.” The line is indeed from The First Part Of King Henry The Fourth, and is spoken by Prince Hal. However, the line is “You villainous, abominable misleader of youth,” and is spoken teasingly of Falstaff.

It then says “Act II” on screen, but it’s actually still Act I of the play. Tromeo dresses as a cow for the Capulet costume party. He sees Rosy, who is dressed as a dominatrix, with her new boyfriend. And then he sees Juliet, and actually says Romeo’s lines from the play: “She doth teach the torches to burn bright.” He lifts the cow head to get a better look at her, and continues: “It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night.” But then he says, “Like a rich barbell in a thrasher’s ear.” He then returns to the play: “Beauty too rich for use, for Earth too dear. Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.” Tromeo then sees Juliet dance with London, but he approaches her anyway and asks for the next dance. Juliet asks to see his face, so he removes the head. And the party behind them disappears, which is really nice. We get more lines from the play. Tromeo says, “If I profane with my unworthiest hand this holy shrine, the gentle sin is this, my lips two blushing pilgrims ready stand to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.” Juliet says, “Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much.” And the scene is allowed to play out, and it’s good. Their kiss lasts longer than usual. Tyrone interrupts, fuming. And that’s how they learn of each other’s last names. But Ness tells Juliet anyway, as Tromeo and Murray escape into the night. And Juliet says, “My only love sprung from my only hate.”

Act II

The film has a title card announcing it’s “Act III,” but it’s actually Act II of the play. Ness tries to make love to Juliet, but Juliet for once pushes her away.  Juliet wakes to find Tromeo in her room. But she then gives birth to popcorn and rats, and we learn it’s a dream. (The Yale Shakespeare is on the bed next to her in the dream.) When she wakes, her father is in bed with her. He drags her by the hair and then quotes King Lear: “How much sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.” (King Lear speaks that line in Act I Scene iv.) He then puts her in shackles, leaving her in a strange clear box in an otherwise dark room.

Meanwhile Tromeo sneaks over, picks the lock, and enters her house. Ness tells Tromeo which room Juliet is in, and also tells him she feels the same way about Juliet that he does. When Tromeo enters the room he says, “What light from yonder plexigass breaks?” He does a variation of Romeo’s speech. When he says, “See how she leans her cheek upon her hand,” we see that he means her left butt cheek. “O, that I were a glove upon that hand that I might touch that cheek.” He asks Juliet if she hates him because of his name. She responds: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” (So this film chooses the Q1 reading of “name” rather than the preferred Q2 “word.”) This scene establishes that Juliet is eighteen, not on the verge of fourteen, as in the play. Tromeo crawls inside the glass box to be with Juliet. Ness sneaks in to watch them.

Romeo and Juliet wake, and Juliet hears the music of the morning television program that her father watches (a funny substitute for the lark from Act III)). Juliet tells Tromeo she’s to be married to London on Thursday. Tromeo proposes they marry before then. London shows up, and Juliet tells him she can’t marry him, that there’s somebody else.

Tromeo goes to Father Lawrence, who is surprised that Tromeo is up before noon. He asks Father Lawrence to marry them tonight. And we do get the scene of Juliet anxiously awaiting word, though not from Ness. She’s waiting for Tromeo’s telephone call, but can’t wait and calls a sex line (so Tromeo gets a busy signal). Tromeo speaks Romeo’s line: “Let rich music’s tongue unfold the imagined happiness that both receive in either by this dear encounter.” And Juliet responds, “Oh, my true love is grown to such excess.” We do get a brief wedding scene. When Romeo then walks Juliet to her door, she says, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” Tromeo responds, “It totally sucks.”

Act III

When Act III begins, on screen it actually says “Act IV.” Tyrone learns from London that Juliet loves someone else, and quickly surmises it’s Tromeo. Tyrone then goes to the piercing parlor and says to Murray, “We’d like to have a word with you.” Murray responds: “A word with me? Better yet, how about a word for you.” And he offers a series of insults to Tyrone. Benny stops Murray from fighting, and Tyrone says he’s just after Tromeo. Tromeo then enters and says to Tyrone, “Let’s stop.” Tyrone spits on him in response, while Murray pisses on Tyrone. Murray and Tyrone fight. But it is when Tyrone swings at Tromeo and Tromeo ducks that Murray is hit and killed. As Murray is dying, he asks for a kiss from Tromeo (so this is another production that portrays Murray as gay or bisexual). Tromeo then chases Tyrone down, rather than Tyrone returning. Tyrone’s death is completely absurd (I love the children’s reaction to his decapitation).

Act IV

Cappy is violent with Juliet and forces her to tell London she’s reconsidered marriage to him. Juliet then goes to Father Lawrence, and finds Tromeo there (instead of Ness going to the Father). Tromeo tells Juliet he has to leave town because the cops are looking for him, and asks her to come with him. She says yes, but that first she has to get London to change his mind so he won’t come after her. Father Lawrence gives Juliet the address of an herbalist who can help. It is the herbalist who gives her the vial.

And then on screen it says “Act V,” though it is still Act IV in the play. Juliet puts on the wedding dress and drinks the potion. (The Yale Shakespeare is now on top of her vanity, in front of the mirror.) It takes a moment for the potion to work. And then, oddly, Juliet says Romeo’s line, “True apothecary, thy drugs are quick.” Tyrone’s ghost shows up, as do the ghosts of Murray and Sammy. Meanwhile downstairs London arrives for the wedding. The potion doesn’t make Juliet appear dead; instead it transforms her into a sort of monster. It works to scare London off – he throws himself out the window. (The Yale Shakespeare is on the bed again.) When Juliet’s father sees her, he doesn’t buy it, and assumes it’s merely makeup.

Act V

Tromeo arrives and pulls Juliet’s father off of her. He then makes out with Juliet, and the potion’s effect wears off. Obviously at this point, the film has completely deviated from the play. Juliet then stabs her father and shoves a hair dryer in his mouth. Tromeo then hits him on the head with The Yale Shakespeare. Cappy ends up knocking them both down. But Juliet is able to electrocute him. Tromeo is cleared of all charges. But it is revealed that Tromeo and Juliet are siblings. When Juliet and Tromeo are trying to make up their minds as to what to do, Juliet quotes lines from As You Like It: “Sweet are the uses of adversity,/Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,/Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.” (Those lines are spoken by Duke Senior at the beginning of Act II Scene i.) Tromeo responds by quoting Much Ado About Nothing: “Let every eye negotiate for itself/And trust no agent.” (Claudio says that in Act II Scene i.) Juliet then says, “Fuck it, we’ve come this far.”

The narrator ends the film with these lines: “And all of our hearts free to let all base things go/As taught by Juliet and her Tromeo.” And there is a shot of William Shakespeare laughing maniacally. There is lots of silliness in the credits, and at the very end of the credits someone says, “Hey, now I don’t have to read the play.”

Bonus Features

The two-disc set includes a whole lot of bonus material, including four separate commentary tracks. Shakespeare fans might enjoy a couple of the deleted scenes. One of them is an alternate ending in which Romeo and Juliet do kill themselves. Romeo shoots himself. There’s then a knock on the door, leading Juliet to say, “There’s noise, so I’ll be brief.” She picks up a large knife and says, “Happy dagger, here is thy sheath – there rust and let me fucking die.” She then slices her own throat. In another deleted scene Benny is having sex with his girlfriend while reciting Sonnet 91 (“Some glory in their birth, some in their skill”). He says “huge birth” instead of “high birth,” and then messes a couple of lines up near the end, saying: “Richer than garments’ cost/Prouder than hawks and horses be.”

On the second disc, some fans recreated a couple of scenes. One scene is where Tromeo sneaks into Juliet’s room, and includes lines from the balcony scene.