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A modern, punk adaptation of Shakespeare's classic. Told irreverently, this film attempts to impact the viewer in the same way theatre-goers were affected in Shakespeare's time. Bawdy, Violent, Humorous, and Romantic. Written by
Romeo and Juliet, let's face it, is a silly story at its core, about two young dopey kids who live under rival tribe-gangs, and then meet and at first sight fall desperately in love. The rival-gang story might be fine enough, but the 'young-first-love' thing grows tired, at least for me, once I get past the age of reason (certain exceptions, like when Jerome Robbins adds kick-ass choreography and sings for West Side Story, or in little animated spurts, abound). So, mixing this silly story into the mix of Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz's Troma world is actually not a bad idea: lots of torpedo-the-top violence, excessive, icky almost Nickelodeon-slime-like gore, nudity and sex, and punk rock and piercings and tattoos for the characters. When there's a gang-fight here, or any kind of altercation that might result in violence, there's not only gotta be blood - severed limbs, torn and cracked skulls, maybe even the occasional mutation or radioactive penis might do the trick.
Here, it's a story told with a little more down-and-dirt grit (and coming out right around the time, intentional or not, with the Baz Luhrman Romeo + Juliet makes a terrific counterpoint for that film's unknowing stupidity). The Capulets and the Montagues were once partners in a film screening business, until Mr. Capulet screwed over Mr. Montague. Now its years later and Tromeo wants true love, as does Juliet, though they both have intended others (for Juliet, a son of a billionaire Juliet's evil father - and yes, he's evil as you will see, incestuous too). They meet at a costume party and have a dance, and right there it's love. But oh, what light on yon Plexiglas does shine! What does that mean? You'll have to see it to believe it.
Tromeo and Juliet offers up a lot of the gross-out stuff and crazy, X-rated cartoonish violence, including, a hight-light for me, a man's face stuck in a car window as it drives at top speed and then being flung to a fire hydrant. Ouch. But it also has James Gunn as writer and (un-official-but-really-was-co) director of the film, and it's fascinating to see after Slither and Super to see that his mark is on it: the film is more disturbing than one might expect from the crude but playful Kaufman, such as the 'black room' with the Plexiglas Capulet has, and some of the more crazy sexual dialog (though some of it is still Troma-light, like when Juliet calls a phone sex line just cause a picture she sees in the ad looks like Tromeo... and the guy on the other end is a 400 pound guy eating a pizza while he sex talks!) You gotta know, this is not your grand-daddy's R&J; this isn't even Abel Ferrara's 80's rock take China Girl. This is a beast of true B to maybe Z grade coverage of the story, with Lemmy from Motorhead as narrator, and, I should note, lots and lots of sex (though some semi-sweet romance midway through too). It's outrageous, it's stupid, it's childish, offensive, disgusting, maybe pornographic in its fetishizing of special effects and the same car crash footage used in every other Troma feature. But it's fun, and it knows it, and that's what counts here. It's all of a piece, to put it another way, even as certain pieces may fall flat or just astound with how bad the acting is or how obvious a stunt is (or, yeah, a boom mic in a few shots).
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