Old Lady Movie Night Old Lady Movie Night: "Romeo + Juliet" Anne T. Donahue

So first things first: THANK YOU SO MUCH for reading my Clueless recap! You guys are seriously the best, and I can’t believe so many of you were so into it. WE ARE ALL EACH OTHER’S BEST FRIENDS. I AM HUGGING THE SCREEN RIGHT NOW. (Tell me you are too.)

Second things second: it’s time for another edition of Old Lady Movie Night. That time of the week where I justify watching a movie in the middle of the day on a Wednesday and then write all about it from the angle of someone who is 27. (Not “old” I know, but I named this column when I was wearing a sweater and drinking tea last year, so I’m going to keep it because now it’s a part of who I am.) Are we ready? Are we all buckled in? I’m still not 100% sure what I’m going to write about, buutttt scanning my DVD shelf I see… Oh. This is perfect.

ROMEO + JULIET.

REMEMBER, YOU GUYS? (Of course.) I saw this movie for the first time when I was 13, and my friend and I wept our faces off because we couldn’t believe anyone in the whole world was as perfect as Leonardo DiCaprio and now he was DEAD (not really, only his character, Romeo). But it’s fine! Who cares! (I do. Very much.) Enough chit-chat! It’s time to watch Romeo + Juliet and ask ourselves…

HOW DID I NOT WRITE ABOUT IT UNTIL NOW.

Let us begin.

1. Well there is nothing on earth that’s going to compete with the intro

There just isn’t. The dramatic music, the close-ups, the EVERYTHING. There is literally no other movie that I can think of sitting here at this very moment that compares to the beginning of this. I actually kind of wish the whole movie was this. AHHH it’s already happening (my emotional reaction). TWO HOUSEHOLDS. BOTH ALIKE IN DIGNITY. IN FAIR VERONA. WHERE WE LAY OUR SCENE. (*Anne starts crying because she forgot how perfect this movie is*)

2. But for the record the STORY isn’t perfect

OBVIOUSLY. Romeo and Juliet have literally only known each other for what, three days? And they go totally insane over their relationship and DIE OVER IT? SIMMA DOWN NA. You are CRAZY, you teens. (Not you, teens who are reading this.) But actually, please imagine your friend was like “I just met this guy at the mall and my family says I’m supposed to hate him (they would never say that), and now I want to kill myself because we can’t be together.” No. Everyone who is reading this, if one of your friends pulls a stunt like that, you show them this paragraph and you say no. NO. Not worth it! I mean, also, after three days you really don’t know anybody at all, and they could turn out to be the worst. No one aspire to be like Romeo and/or Juliet ever, please. Maybe Mercuto, but alive and well.

3. This movie is seriously badass though

RIGHT? I can 100% confirm that it has not lost its charm since Erica (the aforementioned best pal) and I sat on her parents’ bed and declared our love for Leo DiCap. Baz Luhrman got it RIGHT. I mean, how do you make Romeo + Juliet interesting? You cast John Leguizamo (sp?) as a crime lord and then you have him wear a vest. That is how.

4. So were the Romeos and Capulets gangs, then?

I was really deprived in high school in that we didn’t study Romeo + Juliet, we studied A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello and King Lear. Those were not as interesting for a number of reasons:

a) I was too young to understand anything but this movie.

b) Lies. I was just a terrible student who didn’t care about things I wasn’t 100% interested in.

So I never really understood whether the Montagues and Capulets were actually gangs (as depicted in this movie) or just mafia equivalents or two dads who were really into starting beef. I STILL don’t know even though I could easily use the internet to learn. But no. I choose the opposite. TWO DADS STARTING BEEF IT IS.

5. OH GOD ROMEO’S INTRODUCTION

Okay but we all need to just calm down because the greatest scene in the history of the world is about to happen: Radiohead is playing and Leonardo DiCaprio is sitting on the beach and walking and looking sad and mysterious. SHUT IT DOWN. EVERYONE JUST SHUT IT DOWN. Remember when you first saw this? Remember when a guy writing poetry wasn’t something you would go, “Oh… okay. Yeah, I don’t think we’re on the same page” about? (Sorry I’d just rather hang out with a guy who made me laugh — no offense, poet-dudes, I’m sure you are great.)

6. And WHAT UP, PAUL RUDD

Paul Rudd, if you read my piece last week you didn’t tell me or say hi back even though I said hi to you. So just in case you didn’t see it, HI PAUL RUDD AGAIN. Only this time he is Dave Paris, probably the only rational and logical person in this entire movie/play/story. And look! He’s laughing! Unlike Romeo who, yes, I get is “tortured,” but imagine coming home from work and trying to just make conversation with him? “Hey how was your day?” – “[POETRY]” Yikes.

7. Did you guys know that Claire Danes was also maybe going to play Rose in Titanic?

Because I did. I did because as we all know, my obsession with Titanic circa 1997 is something no one could even begin to understand. But she was! Apparently everyone really was into Claire Danes after this movie (and rightfully so — she rules), but I don’t know if I could see her as Rose. I can only see Kate Winslet as Rose, because she IS Rose, as far as I’m concerned. And NO, I know this movie has nothing to do with Titanic except that it DOES and also Claire Danes has wet hair JUST LIKE ROSE DID WHEN THE SHIP SANK*.

*I am reaching. Let me have this.

8. This is seriously the weirdest costume party ever, though

I mean, what’s its theme? It’s not even Halloween! It’s just … a party where everyone gets dressed up but with NO PURPOSE? It’s not like they’re all TV characters or cowboys or heroes or villains or anything other than a bunch of people wearing costumes for a joke. Like, congratulations to Juliet for her sweet Angel costume, but now the Montagues are vikings? But Romeo is a knight? Mercuto is hella awesome, though. Mercuto can wear whatever he wants! Oh and now Romeo doesn’t want to go to the party at all. TYPICAL.

Why are you so whiny, Romeo? Why can’t you just BE COOL.

9. Totally did not get the drug references until today

Because it’s been years since I’ve seen this movie. Truthfully. And even if I maybe got them, I didn’t really “get” them until now, where now I know why Mercuto is REALLY not having a great time, and this whole scene is supposed to be kind of drug-influenced-esque, I think? OR perhaps Baz Luhrman just really loves unique and strange visuals. Either way, Mercuto probably should go home for the night because he is having some serious mood swings, and together with Romeo, they are just the most emotional pair.

I will say that this whole scene with the opera and the “Young Hearts” montage remind me of when I took Tylenol 3′s after I got my wisdom teeth out and started crying because I thought my bed was flipping over. Or the time I had a high fever because I had the flu. Either way, no thank you, “party animals.”

10. Did nobody really recognize Montague with his eye mask?

Just a thought! He’s a very handsome gentleman, and everyone would probably recognize him based on his hair and well, everything but the small amount of his face that’s covered? BECAUSE I WOULD. I WOULD RECOGNIZE HIM. Oh wait, a Capulet (who was making out with Juliet’s mom…?) HAS recognized him. Good. As long as we’re all on the same page of knowing what Leonardo DiCaprio looks like circa 1996.

11. AHHH THE “KISSING YOU” PART WITH THE AQUARIUM IS NOW HAPPENING

THAT. SONG. If I could wrap up 1998 (because again, I didn’t watch this movie until AFTER Titanic) this song would be it (for the month I was obsessed with Romeo + Juliet). I mean, right? Also, can we please discuss the absolute disappointment felt by all of us when we grew up and realized that parties like this don’t really seem to happen and slow dancing only happens at weddings? (And nobody takes slow dancing at weddings seriously because why would you when you could go grab snacks during that time?)

12. AND THEN THE KISS

Listen, I know we’re using a lot of capital letters right now, but we all just need to get on the same page and freak out about the kiss in the elevator. Remember seeing THAT when you were 13 (and/or younger and/or older)? And the song “I Wanna Know What Love Is” was basically the only thing playing in your head? BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT IT IS. (Kidding! It isn’t — it’s lust followed by some weird obsessive behaviour that would probably lead me changing one’s address and phone number in real life.) (But that doesn’t stop me from loving this movie, okay? This isn’t The Notebook, which I’m sorry you guys, is something I can’t love.)

13. But AS IF Juliet doesn’t see/hear Romeo talking to himself in the quiet pool

Right? I heard my cat snoring from the next room this week (not lying), so I’m pretty sure that if a guy was standing RIGHT behind me and whispering to himself ABOUT me in my OWN BACKYARD I would straight up go inside and call the police. WHAT A CRAZY PERSON ROMEO IS. Also, Juliet, use your eyes! He is STANDING RIGHT BEHIND YOU HELLO. At one point he is basically smelling your hair! And yet she’s talking to herself about him (which is also my worst fear considering that when I have a crush on a dude, it’s a nightmare that they actually find out), and BOOM. No, too much. I mean, hello, obviously we all love this scene, but in reality YOU GUYS NEED TO SLOW IT DOWN. You have met a whopping one time. And already Romeo’s all “tell me you love me!”

Simma.

Down.

Na.

Please.

You crazy people.

14. Also pools are like, “how not to be sexy 101″

At least for me. I have this thing — and I’m not joking — where WITHOUT FAIL I will start laughing in the deep end of a pool and then not be able to swim and then I basically have to hold onto the side until I stop. So what I’m saying is that pools are not sexy, and this pool scene would be my nemesis. I also hate putting my head under water and I can’t open my eyes under water because it freaks me out, so I just feel like I were Juliet, I’d say “Listen, let’s just take this to that corner of the yard that is concrete. Cool?”

Also, “Did you bring snacks?” And maybe more importantly, “How did you break into my yard so well? Seriously, I have a security guard. And he didn’t notice you? That’s both impressive and frightening. Also, remember when you asked me to marry you in less than 24 hours of us meeting? That was a good joke. …You ARE joking, right, Romeo? …Romeo? You’re not answering me, and that makes me genuinely anxious.”

15. Oh my god THIS NANNY

She won’t stop calling her even though Juliet JUST SAID she was coming upstairs so CALM DOWN. Seriously that is one of my legitimate pet peeves. Like, I HEARD YOU, PERSON. STOP CALLING ME. Seriously. I SAID I was on my way, why are you screaming hysterically? I wish I could tell you how much this bothers me. It is REALLY up there. Even if my Mom and I get to eat together, and she’s like, “Dinner’s here!” and I answer, “Yep! I know!” and five seconds later she says, “Dinner’s here!” I have to take a minute to relax and not say, “YES I KNOW! I KNOW DINNER IS HERE WHY ARE YOU YELLING.” Because I would be yelling, and that would be hypocritical.

16. Remember Hawaiian shirts?

Because this movie is reminding me. I am also being reminded of when a few guys I went to school with started wearing Hawaiian shirts BECAUSE of this movie. In all fairness, it was 1996 – 1998, so really, those guys were much more put-together than I was in my printed denim shirts. In even more fairness, I didn’t live in California in 1996, so I don’t know whether this was maybe just fashion or some weird Montague thing. People reading this who lived in California in 1996: WAS THIS A THING.

(Here Leo is crying because I just reminded him that he wore a Hawaiian shirt)

17. The relationship between Romeo and Juliet is seriously like Gob and his wife’s in Arrested Development

ALSO remember when Gob married his wife (PLAYED BY AMY POEHLER) in Arrested Developments because of a series of escalating dares? That’s JUST LIKE THIS. They meet. They kiss. They go swimming. Then Romeo’s all “Let’s get married and pretend we’re going to confession!” I wish he had a brother-in-law named Tobias Juliet could and would fall in love with him and spare all of us this inevitable heartbreak. AND SPEAKING OF HEARTBREAK…

18. OH BOY

And now Romero is literally getting beaten within an inch of his life by Tibault (spelled TERRIBLY wrong) and Mercutio (or is it Mercuto) (I DON’T KNOW THERE’S NO TIME), is getting in on it, and ughhhh TOO MUCH NOW MERCUTIO IS GOING TO DIE. Why. This is terrible. This is the worst possible thing. Why do they even hate each other?! WHY DID THE DADS HAVE TO START BEEF. I will say that I remember that at this point in the movie I couldn’t keep it together at all. Though older me might go ahead and say that Mercutio probably just could have gone to the hospital because he looks hurt but not THAT hurt? (I’m not a doctor.) Also, isn’t he friends with both families? Or is he? I AM CONFUSED. Why did my school insist on A Midsummer Night’s Dream?! Also (x 2), whose last words are uttering a curse? What a HORRIBLE way to go. And then they all just leave him there? The worst friends. Literally the worst friends in the world. Everyone here needs to pull it together and start thinking rationally.

19. And speaking of rationally, here we have Juliet, who is married and a teenager, waiting for her teenage husband

There is nothing wrong with getting married young. Let me make that quite clear. I have pals that got married SUPER young, and age — provided you’re a mature person — isn’t any of my business. But what IS my business are these guys getting married after 24 hours of knowing each other, and being completely over-the-top about it! RE-LAX EVERYONE. And now NOBODY is thinking rationally because Mercutio (I’m sorry, we’re just going to have to accept that I’m spelling his name wrong) is dead, and Romeo just killed Tibault and he is screaming in the street, and it’s raining and the violins are playing and it’s TOO MUCH. Everyone needs to flee and start anew or in prison. Try a new city, you guys! Any other city would be okay. Separate cities. Everyone in separate cities, please, where no one can fight or scream-cry in the rain.

20. But who banishes, actually?

WHO. I mean, yes. This was all originally written many, many moons ago, but this specific movie is set in 1996 where “banished” could mean “Let’s start again, you guys!” Then Romeo could leave, maybe get a job at a coffee place in, say, Chicago or something, and go back to school and CALM DOWN for once in his life. I mean, maybe “banished” could be a great fun gift where he DOESN’T die. Wouldn’t THAT be a treat? (Yes.) Also, then Juliet could peace out and join him like any other couple who have to live in separate cities. I mean, they’re in their late teens. This is the part of their lives where they get to say, “Hey. I love my parents, but maybe they DON’T have it all figured out.” Freedom, right?

Or they could just fake their deaths (and then actually die) and leave everyone really stupefied because I bet 99.9% of their families and friends had zero idea that they even knew each other in the first place. (“What do you MEAN she was married to Romeo? I didn’t even know they’d met!” – “Well it was only 48 hours ago, so I mean, that is a completely valid and fair thing to think.”)

21. Probably wouldn’t get over the death of my cousin, though

Thaaaaat’s a dealbreaker. I might really love a guy, but if he were to hit my cousin with his car and then shoot him ala Romeo, that would probably mean that we wouldn’t stay together. It’d be hard, but I’d absolutely have to give him the old heave-ho and probably turn him into the police. Does that make me a realist and/or not someone entirely romantic and/or a thinking human? Probably. As for Juliet “love conquers all!” Capulet, it’s fine! Maybe she didn’t like Tibault much in the first place. But even if that’s the case, your husband totally offed someone, and I’m going to go right ahead and say that even if it wasn’t anyone she knew, probably still a great idea to distance yourself. Maybe … to Chicago (where The Fugitive takes place).

22. Also why aren’t any of these people in school?

Is it the summer? Because why else is nobody at school right now? Also, why are they forcing Juliet into marriage? (YES I KNOW THIS WAS WRITTEN IN THE 17TH CENTURY.) Maybe she’ll meet a nice guy AT SCHOOL? WHERE SHE SHOULD BE? (OR MAYBE SHE WON’T WHICH IS EQUALLY FINE.) Also, her Dad just totally gave her an out: he’ll kick her out if she doesn’t get married to Paul Rudd’s character (who actually does turn out to be a major drag, so forget what I said before), which is PERFECT because banished Romeo + banished Juliet = a new couple who can hang out in the same city where Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones squared off a few times. Shakespeare, if you’re reading this from wherever you are, I have come up with a much better ending: these guys go to school, see if they can make this relationship work, and then either continue to DATE (date, being the operative word here) or not. Nobody here is using their brains.

Their brains which they could develop properly in high school WHERE THEY SHOULD BE.

23. I do love that the priest is just watching Juliet and Paul Rudd like, “UH OH”

Father Laurence, you go. You’re just trying your best! And now Juliet’s pulling a gun on you and you’re thinking “OKAY YOU ARE 16 OR YOUNGER PLEASE JUST RELAX.” But seriously Paul Rudd just leaned in for a kiss and Juliet just kind of stood there and Father Laurence’s expression can only be defined as “Ohhhhh girl, you are in TROUBLE.” And he would be correct. So obviously the only answer is to give her a fake poison.

23. b) I will say though that there is some seriously terrible communication ensuing here though

Just the worst! It probably doesn’t help that Romeo is currently living in a trailer on par with Jesse and Walt’s RV from Breaking Bad and that there are no discernable mail boxes. But maybe they should have made sure that Romeo was actually receiving the letters or someone was actually delivering them or basically just checked to see if there was any other method of communication other than the one that failed them.

24. Also I’m sorry but NOT COOL, Romeo and Juliet

I love Romeo + Juliet the movie, but the play (YES I KNOW THEY ARE BASICALLY THE SAME BUT YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN), is just … how SELFISH are these people?! Why is everyone faking their deaths all over the place? I get that their parents are the worst, but seriously, these guys are also kind of the worst. ALSO, what mail service does Romeo USE in that he actually got the letter about Juliet taking the fake poison THE SAME DAY IT HAPPENED. That poison is only supposed to last 24 hours. It takes my paycheques about two weeks to arrive, yet Romeo’s getting mail all over the place.

More importantly, why did he choose to live in Jesse and Walt’s RV? One million options exist like Los Angeles or San Francisco or Texas or Las Vegas or any other state or city near Verona Beach that is coming to mind. I mean, nobody is going to check up on him. Maybe even take your RV someplace else in the midwest or southwest or … I don’t know. Everyone here has decided to stop thinking rationally. And as someone who gets super anxious about drama (as in I don’t like it and I either want to solve the problem or just not deal with it), all of this is starting to stress me out.

Sidenote: turns out he did NOT get the letter ever, so … well. Looks like the mail system strikes again.

25. AH AND NOW IT JUST GETS WORSE

YOU ARE LITTLE KIDS WHO DON’T KNOW EACH OTHER WHY ARE YOU SO HYSTERICAL ABOUT BEING MARRIED. I wish these guys had the internet so they could talk to ANYONE about what to do. (Ex. “I love this girl, but our families are in rival gangs. Should I go super obsessive?” – “No. Probably not.”)

See, I never really understood why Romeo + Juliet were seen as this quintessential love story. I love love love the movie (because WE ALL LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Leo, Claire, Paul and Pete Postlethwaite who you might remember as the dad from Inception), but the STORY? No! It’s not romantic! It’s really unnecessarily sad! And it makes ME sad because we all hear about are these “star-crossed lovers” and how great they are and they are NOT. No one think this is romance! Everyone here needs to talk to a lot of professionals! It just makes me stressed. Romeo + Juliet, I love you, but you make me stressed.

So to combat that stress let’s remind ourselves that this is a story from 1591 and that life was a lot different then (read: really, really dysfunctional?). Also, let’s remember that Baz Luhrmann wrote “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” and in real life, Leo and Claire went on to live very fulfilling lives that involved Titanic and Homeland.

And THAT is an ending I can get behind. Drops. Mic.

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  1. Loved this! I saw this in the theater and I laughed hysterically because I was thinking that if they only used FedEx or UPS for the letter, all of it could have been avoided (my friends were not happy with me). I became obsessed with the soundtrack (which is still played regularly on my iPod).

  2. Romeo + Juliet came out when I was nine, and I didn’t discover it until I was fourteen(strangely a couple of years after my Titanic/ Leo Dicaprio obsession). But I LOVED it. And I still LOVE it. I also love your funny commentary on it. I know it’s all so unrealistic, but who cares? It’s got young Leonardo Dicaprio looking hot and declaring his undying love. That’s all you need in a film.

  3. Bahahah this was hilarious!! Guys writing poetry, “why aren’t any of these people in school?” hahahahahaa….

    I will say the intro to Moulin Rouge is pretty freaking awesome too… it might compare a bit to the R+J intro. Just a thought!

    Keep up the funny writing please!

  4. This made me extremely happy, and now I have to go see if Family Video has this. Love your columns!!

  5. “Here Leo is crying because I just reminded him that he wore a Hawaiian shirt” HAHA thank you for making me spit up my coffee just a little bit, so funny!

  6. That movie DEFINED my teenage years. That intro hit me like a freight train it was that intense, and the moment Leo turns to the camera at the beach I was a goner. The theatricality of it all was so beautiful, every movement seemed to be very dance-like very coreographed. When they meet you just get carried away. That fishtank scene… let me tell you, it ruined fishtanks for me. The music, made it all so so much better. Oh and I cried for days because of that ending sequence. Still to this day one of my all time faves.

  7. Okay, why, Why, WHY can I follow every single one of your thoughts without even trying KNOWING that they’re kind of spazzy? You are on funny chick. This was a seriously funny recap of a movie I never saw (and now never will because I, like you, can’t handle that much drama in the span of so short a time). Love you, girl!

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  9. icle, made me laugh in so many places and yes I agree, those kids were way to irrational and should have not killed themselves. I sure do love this movie, I watch it at least once a month. The soundtrack is probably the greatest thing ever! This was the movie that solidified my love for Leo. I loved that initial Romeo introduction, perfection! Also, the amount of adorable guys in this film made my teenage heart skip a beat!

  10. Have postponed watching this for a looong time but will have to after reading this. I guess I’ve seen gangsters do jazz hands in West Side Story, having them say stuff like “I will back thee!” could only be cooler.

  11. Oh, and I think I have a theory for #10: Lord Capulet/Mr. Capulet is soo drunk by that point that when Tybalt does recognize him at the party (and he was the only one who did notice Romeo), he thinks Tybalt is causing a scene, and is frankly just too drunk to give a hoot.

  12. I was like thirteen the first time I saw this in 1996, and I loved this movie. The intro music for Romeo by Radiohead was amazing. And I loved the theme song that was popular the year the movie came out, #1 Crush by Garbage. It deviates a lot from the real play, but it’s fantastic.

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  14. Claire Danes hands down wins the award for the most horrible crier ever. It is always ugly crying with her. And that hurts my eyes. I was 11 when this movie came out and remember going to see it with my mom for my birthday. It is still one of my favorites and I was absolutely obsessed with both sound tracks released. I though Paul Rudd was a super creeper in it though when I was little.

  15. This is probably my favorite movie! Watching it now is like a whole new better experience, compared to when it came out and I was in the 6th grade.. :)

    Also…. Let’s not forget that Jesse Bradford is in this movie too! He was 17 and as adorable as ever!!

  16. This is amazing- even more amazing than your column on Clueless, which I didn’t think was possible- you rock.