posted a BLOG item about 2 years ago
Poor Shakespeare, the man worked his entire life to become a great playwright. He quickly became known as the best playwright in history, and his plays have been studied by every student of theatre and English since his death. Many have tried to pay tribute to the legendary playwright, and some have done so successfully; however, there are many in Hollywood who have used Shakespeare’s biography of works purely for their own financial gain. For every great Shakespearian adaptation, there are five horrendous adaptations, that would not only have Shakespeare rolling over in his grave but would actually have Shakespeare rise up and start taking out the people behind the awful adaptations. These are the reasons Shakespeare would rightfully pissed off and how he would exact his justified revenge.
“Othello” is considered one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays for many reasons. Its focus on jealousy is amazing, and it was one of the first plays to question race in terms of social class. It also features the greatest villain ever to be written in the history of performing arts. Forget The Joker, Darth Vader, and the evil bitch Umbridge from the Harry Potter movies; Iago is nothing short of a maniacal genius and the greatest villain evev. He is evil, conniving, and insanely twisted. Somehow when casting the role of Iago in the film “O,” the producers thought Josh Hartnett would be the best choice to fill the roll. Josh Hartnett, who is most known for his ability to look confused all the time, was chosen to play an evil genius. Really? Then, to top it off, they decided to make Othello, who was a very powerful ruler, just an ordinary guy who is pretty good at basketball. This sounds like a great way to piss off Shakespeare. Not only would Shakespeare come back to massacre the people behind “O,” but he would likely pick up Orson Welles and Laurence Olivier along the way to join in on the fun. The three of them would merge to play a “Space Jam” style game of basketball against the writers and producers of the film, using Hartnett’s lopped-off head as the basketball. The losers would be forced to work at Moron Mountain for the rest of their lives, enslaved by that nasty, fat alien that tried to capture the Looney Tunes. Additionally, that joke helped me find this link: http://www.sportsgrid.com/nba/heres-how-space-jam-would-have-ended-if-lebron-james-had-starred-in-it/, so that all worked out for the best. They also make sure to send Julie Stiles, because “O” is the second horrible adaptation she was a major part in.
The first terrible Shakespeare adaptation Ms. Stiles happened to star in was “10 Things I Hate About You.” Now do not get me wrong, this is a great movie, but it does not pay tribute to its predecessor, “The Taming of a Shrew,” correctly. The studios attempted to market the story to a new generation, but ignored how the story played out in order to gain the adoration of the teenage audience it was aimed at. References acknowledging “The Taming of a Shrew” were thrown throughout the film, mainly with the characters names, but they were few and far between. It loses its element of masculine empowerment, which admittedly is difficult to portray with that being a sensitive subject for modern audiences, instead going with a cheesy love story that was seen 20 other times in “teen” films that year alone. Patrick Verona is forced to be nice to win Kat’s heart instead of winning her hand because of the fear he causes her. Shakespeare exacts his revenge by forcing the entire cast and crew to sit in a locked room with each other and listen to Muse’s version of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” on a loop. Heath Ledger is the only one who can stand this for more than 24 hours without killing himself, because this is actually how he prepared himself for playing The Joker in “The Dark Knight.” It caught up to him in the end anyways.
It truly seems like all the worst Shakespearian adaptations are movies aimed at the teenage audience. The worst of these is unquestionably “She’s the Man” starring the beautiful yet ultimately annoying Amanda Bynes. There have been several adaptations of “Twelfth Night,” but none of them come close to torching the original play more than “She’s the Man.” The play focuses on a theme of a female attempting to live in a man’s world by dressing up as a man. The theme has been addressed numerous times since then, most notably in Simone Benmussa’s “The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs,” but Shakespeare was the first to address it. Unfortunately, in a move that single-handedly set the female gender back so far only Snooki herself could top it, “She’s the Man” completely ignored the struggle for women living in a world ruled by men and decided to make the film a love story revolved around revenge. While “Twelfth Night” is partially a love story between some of the characters, it does not feature the revenge element in such a stupid way like “She’s the Man.” The main character in the film, Viola, pretends to be a man, so she can join her school’s soccer team and teach her ex-boyfriend, who happens to be the goalie, a lesson. How is it possible to turn the works of the greatest writer in history into such simplistic drivel? Shakespeare would be so angry with this atrocious film, obviously aimed towards teenage girls who probably have not had the opportunity about to learn about Shakespeare, he would torture Miss Bynes more than everyone combined in the previously mentioned films. Shakespeare would tie her arms and legs to every corner of the goal and reenact the winning goal scene from the movie over and over again until she could not the pain any longer. He would then drop a giant projector screen in front of the goal and force her to watch reruns of “The Amanda Show” until her head exploded. She would not make it past the first season. Additionally, while I am on the subject of cross-dressing in film, “Saving Private Ryan” should have won the Oscar over “Shakespeare in Love.” That is one of the biggest tragedies that has ever occurred at the Academy Awards.
Of course, no play has been done adapted more than Shakespeare’s most famous tale, “Romeo and Juliet.” The amount of idiotic adaptations of this play are ridiculous, but it makes since that Hollywood would want to take advantage of the most marketable story ever written. Some of these adaptations include the following: ”Romeo Must Die,” “Tromeo and Juliet,” and numerous films that kept the original title; however, two adaptations stand out above the others as the biggest travesties towards Shakespeare’s play.
The first of these soul-crushing endeavors by Hollywood is 1996’s “Romeo + Juliet.” The title alone is difficult to get by when the producers decided to make the film a little more edgy and replace the world “and” with the pretentious + symbol that was surely going to help attract a younger audience. This is yet another example of a teenage film that destroys Shakespeare’s writing by focuses on an immature audience that does not understand the full impact of the trash they are embracing. Despite the obvious attempt to market towards young girls by casting Leonardo Dicaprio as the lead, they decided to keep the original dialogue as Old English. I have to wonder what went down in that production meeting to make them think this would a good idea. I imagine it went something like this.
Studio Head #1: “Okay, so we have Dicaprio lined up, and we are going to market this to a ‘hip’ audience by modernizing it and making the two families gang members.”
Studio Head #2: “Yes! This is perfect. We can definitely sell this.”
Baz Luhrmann aka ‘the director’: (sighs) “Fine, we can do all this, but we are keeping the language like it was.” (blank stares from others) “You know…Old English.”
Studio Head #1: (whispering to #2): “We have to do what he says. Leo won’t do it if Luhrmann walks.”
Studio Head#2: “Shit. Alright, you have a deal.”
That is the only possible way this movie could have been made. The entire cast was awful with the exception of Claire Danes who was perfect for the titular Juliet. Dicaprio was recently matured into a great actor, but at this point in his career, he was nowhere near qualified to play the role of Romeo. They also decided to try to bring in the urban crowd by making the Capulets and the Montagues into street gangs. Making Jamie Kennedy a gangster is definitely going to pull in the urban crowd, which was definitely proven ten years later when they made “Malibu’s Most Wanted.” Sarcasm is difficult to portray in writing. Shakespeare would basically recreate the board room scene from “Dogma” except he would do it with a sword to prove a point about modernizing the films with gang violence. Also, he would do it while listening to Tupac. He would then move on to the most evil adaptation ever made: “Gnomeo and Juliet.”
There is not much more I can say about the awful piece of crap cinema that is “Gnomeo and Juliet” that I have not already said, so I am just going to add the review I wrote earlier this year for the newspaper.
I had some serious concerns going into “Gnomeo and Juliet,” and to be completely honest, every one of those concerns turned out to be completely justified. First of all, if you are going to make a film that features talking cartoon gnomes, why does it have be based on a Shakespearian play. “Gnomeo and Juliet” had so few similarities to the actual “Romeo and Juliet,” they could have easily just made a movie about feuding gnomes without tarnishing Shakespeare’s name. The film attempts to do the prologue in a humorous way, but it falls far short it the laughter department. If you want to see a truly funny version of all of the prologue, along with the rest of Shakespeare’s works, look up the “Reduced Shakespeare Company” on YouTube.
Obviously, the filmmakers knew Shakespeare was going to be rolling over in his grave because of this awful adaptation, but they just did not care. At one point in the movie, the titular character, Gnomeo, meets a giant statue of Shakespeare. The statue proceeds to tell Gnomeo how “Romeo and Juliet” is supposed to end, to which Gnomeo responds, “I think we can come up with a better ending.” This is the point in the movie where I began to spout profanities in a theater full of young kids. “Romeo and Juliet” was not made to be a story for children. If you cannot stick to the original story, then you should not try to adapt the story. The gall they writers had to think they can rewrite Shakespeare is ridiculously ignorant.
Of course, they thought they could get away with it by hiring an extremely talented, mainly British, voice cast. Michael Caine, James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Patrick Stewart, Maggie Smith, and Jason Statham all sadly provided voice work for the terribly bad attempt at Shakespeare.
What makes “Gnomeo and Juliet” truly horrendous was the absolute lack of originality the film provided. As I mentioned, they did an appalling version of “Romeo and Juliet,” but that is not the only story “Gnomeo and Juliet” stole from. The film is a blatant rip off of “Toy Story,” but also manages to pilfer lines and scenes from “Braveheart,” “American Beauty,” “Forrest Gump,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and plenty more I did not catch.
To top off the agony that is “Gnomeo and Juliet,” the people behind the film decided that this movie had to be in 3D. The 3D added absolutely nothing to this film, and I actually removed those stupid glasses 10 minutes into the film.
If there is one redeeming element of “Gnomeo and Juliet,” it is the score provided by Elton John. That man has a plethora of classic songs that are used well throughout the film.
Otherwise, “Gnomeo and Juliet” is a complete waste of 90 minutes and was the worst experience at a theater that I have ever had.
There has never been a worse travesty to film and theatre than “Gnomeo and Juliet.” To punish everyone involved with this film, Shakespeare would collect as many lawn gnomes as necessary for the entire cast and crew and forcefully shove them where the sun does not shine. Of course this excludes Elton John, because he would probably enjoy this punishment.
It is painfully sad how many movies have shredded Shakespeare’s works and attempted to ruin his legacy. The trend does not appear to be changing with a movie later this year that questions if he even wrote his plays in the first place. They are also making another version of “Romeo and Juliet” that will surely be targeted towards teens and ruin another generation of possible fans. Hopefully somebody can come up with some original ideas and leave Shakespeare’s works alone.