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"ROMEO AND JULIET"
(1996) (Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate Mild Moderate Mild Extreme
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Heavy Minor Moderate *Minor Minor
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate Mild Moderate Moderate Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A modernized version of the Shakespeare classic about young, star-crossed lovers of two feuding families.
PLOT:
In this modern version of the 400-year-old classic, Romeo (LEONARDO DICAPRIO) is a member of the Montague family and Juliet (CLAIRE DANES) lives in the Capulet household. The two families have a long standing feud that's recently been stoked by violent actions perpetuated by Tybalt (JOHN LEGUIZAMO), Juliet's cousin and Romeo's sworn enemy. Tensions are high and soon a shootout occurs between the rival gangs. Romeo and Juliet first meet at a Halloween party where her parents are trying to arrange her marriage to Dave Paris (PAUL RUDD), a dashing young fellow, but Juliet only has eyes for Romeo. The two hit it off immediately and soon are secretly married by Father Laurence (PETE POSTLETHWALTE). Romeo then wants a truce between the families, but this only infuriates Tybalt who ends up killing Romeo's friend, Mercutio (HAROLD PERRINEAU) during a fight. Things go from bad to worse as the young lovers realize their future together is uncertain at best and by a twist of bad luck and timing, they meet an untimely end.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
That's hard to say. Younger kids won't be, but teens might be drawn by the young stars (and classic love story) and the hip setting.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For scenes of contemporary violence and some sensuality.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • LEONARDO DICAPRIO plays the gun toting gang member who shoots one man, sleeps with Juliet, and kills himself.
  • CLAIRE DANES plays the young woman who sleeps with Romeo and commits suicide with a handgun.
  • JOHN LEGUIZAMO plays the antagonist to Romeo who also shoots people and is basically a bad guy.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 6.5 out of 10
    This is a rather interesting, modern take on the Shakespeare classic. The first third of the movie is shot in a frenetic MTV style, obviously to hold the interest of that generation that's being coveted as the target audience. For a while, one isn't sure whether this is intended as a spoof with freeze frames and titles appearing on the screen (like in the old 1970's TV action shows) as well as an abundance of sped up film. Again, this appears to be used to draw the young audience into the story and through the original dialogue that isn't easily comprehended by today's crowd. After a while, however, it appears the film makers assume that they've grabbed their audience, and the film slows down a bit. Still, the modern take has some interesting moments such as Romeo setting off the motion detectors at the Capulet mansion and later an urgent letter is delivered not by Fed Ex or UPS, but by "Post Haste Dispatch." As in most of Shakespeare's works, one eventually becomes accustomed to the dialogue and the story becomes more interesting and enjoyable (and in this case the frenetic camera work is replaced by a more traditional shooting style). Ever the classic, we give this modern and intriguing interpretation a 6.5 out of 10.
    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    It's hard to say how kids will react to this film. Obviously designed to draw them in (by the shooting style and young stars), the play's original dialogue will probably surprise the MTV crowd and might make them think they're back in their English class at school. As far as content goes, the film is chock full of gang lifestyles and extreme use of guns (as both weapons and a fashion statement). Both of the lovers commit suicide (after threatening it earlier) and that imitative behavior should raise your concern. In the original play it's not so bad due to its "removed" quality -- kids can't easily relate to it. But this film can be related to and suicide by a gun is not that uncommon. There is some drinking, and in one scene Romeo takes some sort of hallucinogenic pill that sends him on quite a "trip." The two young lovers have sex off camera, but are seen removing each other's shirts and later are seen in bed together. If your kids want to see this one, we suggest you read through the category listings before allowing them to do so.

    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Juliet's mother drinks bourbon.
  • Romeo takes some sort of pill that makes him severely hallucinate.
  • Other minor characters are seen drinking (beer and cocktails) in public several times.
  • Juliet's father has a drink.
  • BLOOD/ GORE
  • Romeo is bloody after Tybalt's beaten him up and is then even more bloody after he tries to help Mercutio who's been fatally stabbed and is also very bloody.
  • Juliet has a small, bullet hole in her head and Romeo has blood splattered on him after she kills herself at the end.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Obviously, both families (gangs) have both toward each other and Tybalt is the worst of the bunch.
  • Juliet's parents get very mad at her after she refuses her arranged marriaged to Paris, and her father beats her for this.
  • FRIGHTENING/TENSE SCENES
  • Some viewers may find scenes listed under "Violence" as also being tense or suspenseful.
  • At a gas station there's a tense scene between the two rival gangs. Guns are drawn and aimed at each other. Eventually shots are fired and Tybalt shoots one of the Montagues.
  • Romeo's drug trip (see "Alcohol/Drugs") may be somewhat scary for younger viewers due to it's disorienting look.
  • Romeo drives like a madman and crashes into Tybalt's car, causing it to flip over onto its roof. Tybalt scrambles out and holds his gun to Romeo's head who then holds it there himself. Moments later, Romeo grabs the gun and shoots Tybalt dead.
  • Juliet holds a handgun to her head and then aims it at Father Laurence after she's learned that Romeo has been "banished."
  • Although nearly everyone knows what's coming, the ending is still tense as the lovers take their own lives.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Nearly everyone in this film carries a handgun and many of them are used to threaten or kill others. See "Violence" and "Imitative Behavior" for details.
  • In addition, guns have replaced the swords used in the original play. Therefore, rifles are referred to as "long swords" and 9mm handguns have the word "rapier" written on them.
  • Mercutio fires his gun into the air to get Romeo's attention.
  • Mercutio fires his handgun down into the ocean waves (apparently at nothing in particular).
  • Juliet holds a handgun to her head and then aims it at Father Laurence after she's learned that Romeo has been "banished."
  • Romeo drinks poison to kill himself and Juliet, upon learning of his fate, takes his handgun and commits suicide.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Guns are used not only as weapons but as fashion accessories by the younger family members.
  • A Montague member bends over and licks his own nipple.
  • Being in gangs.
  • One of the Montague boys does some pelvic thrusting in the air.
  • Mercutio and another man show off their gun skills (spinning them around on their fingers and aiming them at each other), but no shots are fired.
  • Romeo and Juliet get secretly married.
  • Romeo is "banished" by the police for shooting Tybalt, instead of being arrested. Kids might be confused or get the wrong message over that.
  • Phrase: "Motley fool."
  • Juliet holds a handgun to her head (saying that she wants to die) and then aims it at Father Laurence after she's learned that Romeo has been "banished."
  • Romeo drinks poison to kill himself and Juliet, upon learning of his fate, takes his handgun and commits suicide.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • Romeo has a flashback of the night before when he shot Tybalt (and the suddenness of the scene may make some jump).
  • Even though you know it's coming, the sound of the gunshot that kills Juliet will still make you jump.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • There's a moderate amount of suspenseful music in the movie.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • There is a phrase "Maybe I'm just like my mother. She's never satisfied..." from a remake of the Prince song, "When Doves Cry."
  • There is a modern rock/rap soundtrack that plays in the background and while we didn't hear anything else objectionable, certain material might be present that younger ears may be able to pick out from under the dialogue and sound effects.
  • PROFANITY
  • 1 ass, and 3 uses of "Oh God" and 1 use of "My God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • There is the mention of Juliet's "quivering thigh."
  • After kissing in the fountain, Rome asks Juliet if she's going to leave him unsatisfied. She wonders what kind of satisfaction he was looking for, and he states that he wants her word of love.
  • Romeo and Juliet passionately kiss and he begins kissing her neck and then kisses her between her breasts.
  • Romeo and Juliet remove each other's shirts, but no nudity other than her bare back is seen. The next morning they're seen in bed together, implying that they've had sex. Again, she's topless, but the scene is shot in such a way that her breasts are not seen.
  • SMOKING
  • Tybalt smokes a cigarette twice.
  • Romeo smokes twice.
  • Juliet's mother smokes.
  • Other minor characters on the street are seen smoking.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Juliet's father throws her down onto her bed in anger (after she's said she won't marry Paris after her father has arranged the marriage). There's a great deal of yelling and screaming. He then slaps his wife to the floor and pushes the nurse out of the way and then once again pushes Juliet to the floor.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Why the characters talk the way they do (the original Shakespearean dialogue).
  • Gang lifestyles.
  • Mercutio dresses as a drag queen during a Halloween party.
  • Romeo is "banished" by the police for shooting Tybalt, instead of being arrested. Kids might be confused or get the wrong message about that.
  • Juliet holds a handgun to her head (saying that she wants to die) and then aims it at Father Laurence after she's learned that Romeo has been "banished."
  • Romeo drinks poison to kill himself and Juliet, upon learning of his fate, takes his handgun and commits suicide.
  • VIOLENCE
  • At a gas station there's a tense scene between the two rival gangs. Guns are drawn and aimed at each other. Eventually shots are fired and Tybalt shoots one of the Montagues. Tybalt then drops a match that ignites gasoline on the ground that burns over to the gas pumps and catches them on fire.
  • Later, two gang members stand with their guns drawn on each other, and it's not until the police arrive (with their guns drawn) that the two throw down their weapons.
  • Juliet's father slaps Tybalt on the face.
  • Tybalt and Romeo get into an argument and Tybalt pushes him to the ground and then kicks him several times. Mercutio comes to the rescue and beats up Tybalt who lands on a pane of glass that shatters. Tybalt grabs a sliver of glass and fatally slices open Mercutio's side.
  • Romeo drives like a madman and crashes into Tybalt's car, causing it to flip over onto its roof. Tybalt scrambles out and holds his gun to Romeo's head who then holds it there himself. Moments later, Romeo grabs the gun and shoots Tybalt dead.
  • Juliet's father throws her down onto her bed in anger (after she's said she won't marry Paris after her father has arranged the marriage). He then slaps his wife to the floor and pushes the nurse out of the way and then once again pushes Juliet to the floor.
  • As Romeo rushes to the church to see Juliet (whom he believes is dead), the police arrive. He grabs a bystander and holds a gun to the man's head to the keep the police at bay. Romeo then fires at a police helicopter and then at the other police. He lets the man go and rushes into the church as the police open fire (but miss hitting him).
  • Romeo drinks poison to kill himself and Juliet, upon learning of his fate, takes his handgun and commits suicide.



  • Reviewed October 29, 1996

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