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“Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young”

Ah, 1996. It was the year of Renton’s monologue from Trainspotting, Sublime’s 40 oz to Freedom and Prozac Nation. I was a freshman in Boston trying to figure out who to love, what to study and how often to wash my Carhartt pants. My roommate and I shared a love of classic rock, Gilgamesh, Diet Coke and Friends that I will never again experience. You know what else we loved? A little movie called William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet. You know why? Because it is awesome.

I know it is divisive, even polarizing, this p.m. oevre by one Australian Baz Luhrmann. But I’m not exhorting you to watch that windmill filled with crap called Moulin Rouge or telling you not to puncture your eardrums the next time someone threatens to play that sunscreen bullshit, I just wish you would consider spending an afternoon in fair Verona Beach, where he lays his scene.

If you have any of the 5 senses you love Paul Rudd. Guess what? He plays Dave Paris, the suitor chosen by the Capulets for their young daughter. Guess what else? He is hilariously charming. He’s so funny you want to put his entire face in your mouth. He’s so cute you would make out with him and bring him to Miss Geist’s wedding even if he is your sort of brother. He’s so endearing you watch those last season Friends episodes when all the cast looked like your mom’s cool older sister. His standout scene is the Capulets’ costume party and you may want to, as we did in the dorm room, pause here to make yourself another White Russian, ’cause it’s got it all going on.

Four words: Young hearts, run free. You remember. It’s fabulous. You’re dancing with Mercutio. You want to scoop up that magical cross dressing prophet and twirl him all night long. The actor’s name is Harold Perrineau Jr and you may know him from his roles on Lost, Oz and the Matrix. His dance sequence is gorgeous but he also does a killer Queen Mab monologue and proves to be as adept at the masculine side as well as sharp of tongue when he duals with Tybalt, which proves to be a grave mistake.

John Leguizamo (you spell it like it sounds) plays the Prince of Cats and frankly he makes you want to get down and lick something. Act 1, Scene 1, cleverly sets up the context and devices used throughout. If you’re annoyed by how stylized the action and appearance is you might not be who I thought you were. You like the Zeffirelli version with those gommy teenagers who look like gauzy skaters in an ice dancing competition? Please just go.

Moving on. You could argue that Leo Dicap reached his apotheosis in this film. Whether he was smoking and writing about the misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms in his journal or looking sheepishly lovestruck at Juliet through the aquarium when they first meet he was melting our 18 year old hearts. Even the wooden and unappealing Claire Danes is sweet and pretty here and her pained delivery and contrived naivete work for this role in this film. My hatred for you, Claire Daines, runs so deep I almost find Angela Chase maudlin and pathetic now. Bitch.

One last point: Lovefool by the Cardigans made you dance around your room like a sorority girl. And we’re through.

There Are 2 Responses So Far. »

  1. I read this post a few days ago, and the idea of Romeo and Juliet kept coming back to haunt me. So last night I watched the dvd, the one with Leonardo de Caprio in it. When I was in junior high my friends and saw the Franco Zeffirelli version (1968) and I loved that one too. My mom was scandalized when she found out that it had (gasp) nudity in it. I think I need to find that one on dvd too, so then I can have a R&J marathon, start with the 1968 film, then the 1996 one and of course cap it with “Shakespeare in Love”. That should make me suffiently maudlin.
    regards,
    Theresa

  2. I’m sorry, what? “But I’m not exhorting you to watch that windmill filled with crap called Moulin Rouge.”

    Why are you disparaging Nikki K and the Moulin Rouge?

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