Rewatching William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet

Old Lady Movie Night is one of my new favorite blog series. From Hello Giggles, a website for all things girly-girl, this series highlights observations from “old lady movies” such as Center Stage, Now & Then and 10 Things I Hate About You. Well, I just had my own “old lady movie” moment. Recently, my 16-year-old niece read William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet in her English class. We had the following conversation.

My niece: Ugh. We just read Romeo & Juliet, and then we had to watch this really old Romeo & Juliet movie.

Me: Oh, you mean the one from the 60s?

My niece: No. It was this other old movie. It was really weird because it tried to take place during modern times.

Me: Are you referring to the 1996 classic starring Claire Danes and Leonardo Di Caprio, the love of my life?

My niece: Um … I guess so.

I am officially old.

So, to revel in my old-ness, I decided to rewatch this (in my opinion, classic!) film and write about it in the way my favorite Hello Giggles blogger, Anne Donahue, has about other “old lady movies” in the past. Here it goes.

1. Don’t you wish people actually talked like this?

It’s just such a romantic and eloquent method of speech, rather than today’s overuse of “um” and “like.”

2. Unbutton Hawaiian shirts are not fashionable.

And neither are leather corsets donning Catholic saints. Who did the costuming for this movie? It’s just god awful. I bite my thumb at their clothing.

3. Leonardo Di Caprio is beyond gorgeous in this film.

The opening scene where he’s smoking, acting all mopey and writing in his journal while the sun rises, and his hair beautifully falls in his face, is stunning. It almost makes me wish all men smoked. You know … if it wasn’t for the bad breath or the lung cancer that comes with it.

4. Paul Rudd!!!

Oh yes. My favorite funny man and KU alum is in this movie, as is Jesse Bradford. (Remember him from Bring It On? He has about two lines in this film. My friend and I adored him when we were in high school. We even saw Swimfan in theaters because he was in it. Remember Swimfan? No, you probably don’t, because it was a horrible movie. But I remember it. Silly high school crushes.) But Paul Rudd, I’d marry you. My father wouldn’t even have to force my hand. And I don’t care that you look super dorky in your astronaut costume. It’s endearing.

5. I think I found next year’s Halloween costume!

Although the masquerade ball is a drug-induced mess, Juliet’s white-angel costume and Romeo’s knight-in-shining-armor costume is absolute perfection. I told my husband and, although he hasn’t objected yet, I’m feeling like he’s not too excited about it. But I was Super Mario last year. This year I want to be pretty. 🙂

6a. ”Kissing You” is one of the best romantic songs ever.

I don’t think that this song gets as much attention as it should. I would have requested it as my first dance as a married couple song on my wedding day if it wasn’t for the fact that its presence is a constant reminder to us all that Romeo and Juliet inevitably kill themselves. (Sorry. Spoiler Alert!) But gosh, it’s a beautiful song. Des’ree’s voice. The violins. The revolving camera work during their first kiss in the elevator. (Also, did anyone else lurk around aquariums after this movie came out, just waiting for a cute boy to start falling in love with you? No one else? Just me? Okay. I can live with that.)

6b. This whole soundtrack is actually pretty amazing. I recommend you give it a listen.

7. Romeo really needs a new set of friends.

They’re like that group of friends that people just outgrow . You move on and find a girlfriend, but they continue to embarrass you. Mercutio is crazy and outspoken, one of them keeps grabbing their crotch, and the other one has pink hair, for crying out loud.

8. Juliet must suffer from hearing problems, right?

How can she not hear Romeo as he lurks around her on the balcony? Juliet? Can you even hear yourself as you question what’s in a name? Because Romeo’s right behind you. And then he sneaks up on you and accidentally pushes you into a pool and you don’t even get mad about it. You think it’s romantic. Silly kids.

9. Oh yea. Romeo’s a huge klutz.

Did anyone else ever notice this? I’d even go so far as to say that he’s worse than Edward Cullen’s Bella Swan. He falls into all of the pool equipment, trips on something in the friar’s church, and later falls out of bed. This boy needs to learn how to walk without falling before getting married.

10. But despite that, you loved him.

Admit it. This movie made you yearn for a man that could eloquently put his romantic notions into words. This move made you want a poet. (But alas, all high school had to offer were boys. You were lucky if you got a mixed tape—the 90s version of a poem. I want to be your hero baby … )

11. Didn’t you two just meet?

And already, Juliet wants him to profess his love and propose? I guess I should give her props for demanding he put a ring on it. She knows what she wants, and she’s not willing to take any of his wishy-washy bullshit. She will not be another Rosaline! (Wait, who? Oh yea … he was obsessed with another girl until he laid eyes on Juliet. He tried to make you forget all about that, didn’t he? Romeo fail.)

12. Roh-meh-oh!

I just like how his friend shouts his name at the beach. That is all.

13. The friar is the absolute worst, right?

I mean, first he marries two underage teenagers without ANY parental consent (Is that even legal?) for his own political motives—to unite two of the most wealthy families in the city. Don’t use teenagers as pawns! And then he advises one of these teenagers to take an illegal drug to convince every adult in her life that she’s dead in order to run away with the “love of her life,” whom she’s known for three days. Surely he has a criminal record and shouldn’t be within 100 yards of a child, right? Where the hell did he come from?!

14. Speaking of the wedding … Juliet’s dress was so 90s chic.

I adored that white, button-up, mid-length dress. It looked so pretty on her. And who else styled their hair into a “sprig bun” with an array of butterfly clips?  I rocked that look on a daily basis all throughout middle school.

15. Seattle Grace could have easily treated Mercutio’s wound. It wasn’t THAT bad.

I mean, it was. But it didn’t have to be, right? As soon as it happened he could have pulled out a cell phone, called 911 and gotten himself to the ER. Someone stabbed him with a chard of glass; it’s probably not a good idea to walk around an abandoned stage telling everyone it’s just a scratch, then run off to the beach to die and curse your best friend. Meredith Grey could have fixed him up in no time.

16. Stop being emo, Romeo.

Yes, you’ve been exhiled. Yes, it sucks. But in any normal society you would have been thrown in jail and issued the death penalty. (You shot him on a public street with plenty of eye witnesses!) So take your family’s wealth and travel somewhere warm and inviting. I bet Juliet could run away from her house and meet you wherever you go. Why must you cry on the shoulder of the friar, a.k.a. the worst man in the world?

17. That’s not how you say banished.

Where did this captain go to school? Mizzou?

18. There must have been a lack of suicide awareness in Verona.

Juliet tells her mom that she will kill herself if she is forced to marry Paul Rudd. She just tells her straight out. She’s not keeping this a secret to herself as emotional jottings in a journal. She says, outloud, that she will kill herself if she is forced to do this. And what does her mother do? She ignores her threat and berates her for not wanting to marry the man she and her husband chose for her. Your daughter just admitted to thoughts of suicide! Do something proactive about it!

19. The friar proves his “worth” yet again.

“I really need to get a message sent to Romeo. It’s a matter of life and death. I know! I’ll send him an urgent message via UPS! That’ll do the trick!” This is obviously what went through his mind. There can be no other explanation. Did no other option cross his mind? Like giving Romeo a call, sending him an email, or even driving down to his trailer himself to tell him in person? Don’t entrust a third party for such an important message; and don’t continue to trust said third party when they tell you that after a couple of days they STILL can’t reach him. At this point, track him down yourself. Don’t resend him the same message, hoping that THIS TIME it will make it to him. Ugh!

19. The multiple cringe-worthy scenes near the end of this film absolutely kill me.

First, the mailman is standing right there with an undelivered letter from the friar as Romeo rushes back to Verona to see Juliet’s “deceased” body. They pass right by him as they drive out of dessert hell! Then, when Romeo arrives at the church all crazy like, he drinks his poison RIGHT as Juliet is waking up. She literally wakes up and grabs his arm as he is pouring the last of the poison past his tongue. It’s just too much to bear.

20. That church where Juliet’s body was placed was a fire hazard.

So. Many. Candles. Can’t. Breathe.

21. That’s not how you say punished!

Stupid MU captain.

Hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane. (I know I did.) If you enjoyed it, please let me know. And what do YOU remember most about Romeo + Juliet? Maybe I’ll relive another 90s classic some day soon. Just leave me some film recommendations in the comments section below.

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5 Comments

Filed under Entertainment, Movies

5 responses to “Rewatching William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet

  1. You left out the part about Dave Relihan (note: Kansas weather does not appreciate a TBS Leonardo DiCaprio marathon even during the Paul-Rudd-in-an-astronaut-suit scene. Otherwise, I’d say this post captures my, too, love of the infamous “classic” film. Admittedly so, I do still love Jesse Bradford and my incredibly scratched 1996 soundtrack.

  2. @ashleymmcdonald This comment made my day. Stupid Dave Relihan, always ruining our movie nights. I loved watching this movie with you, as well as Swimfan, and the other Jesse Bradford “classic,” Clockstoppers. LOL. ❤

  3. 9th

    in 9th grade teacher made us watch it i think its pretty tight (cool) luv leo!

  4. Pingback: Rewatching Dirty Dancing Havana Nights | Simply Gina - Fashion, Food, Books

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