Judge Joel Pearce thinks this doesn't hold a candle to the Peruvian Shakespeare update, Falstaff's Big Score.
Happily ever after, except for one small detail…
Somewhere along the way, perhaps after Romeo Must Die, most film producers must have considered that it might be time to put this particular formula to rest. After 50s gangs, California streets, and high schools, haven't we seen this story enough times in enough places? Is the creative well for Romeo and Juliet finally dry?
Apparently not. Leave it to Brazilian director Bruno Barreto (Four Days in September) to milk this 400-year-old cow one more time, except placing the feud between the Montagues and Capulets as a rivalry between two Brazilian soccer teams. Indeed, here we have Juliet (Luana Piovani, The Man who Copied), the only daughter of a die-hard Palmeiras fan. She wants to play soccer herself, but is not allowed to professionally. After a highly scripted accident, she winds up at the office of a much older man, an ophthalmologist named Romeo (Marco Ricca, The Trespasser), who also happens to be a passionate Corinthians fan.
The two fall in love and start boinking each other immediately, but they both know he will have to hide his true loyalties from her family. The rest of the film doesn't resemble the classic love story so much as it does a '50s screwball comedy, as he tries to disguise himself as a Palmeiras fan yet can't bring himself to have sex with her on top of Palmeiras bedsheets. Of course, the families do find out, and all hell breaks loose. Can the families get past this age-old rivalry?
Of course they can. After all, we know from the start that this is not a sincere retelling of the Romeo and Juliet story. The two characters even have a conversation near the beginning, commenting on the fact that they share namesakes with the star-crossed lovers of old. If anything was ever a sign that things would go south in a relationship, this is it. The remainder of the film will only please fans of classic screwball comedy, at least those that aren't offended by the film's frank sexual content and the almost creepy age difference between the title characters.
Really, the one thing that Romeo and Juliet Get Married does exceptionally well is highlight the natural weakness of the original play. The feud between the families in Romeo and Juliet has always been a forced plot device, one that never feels particularly sincere. The ridiculous nature of that is even more dramatic here, as the characters sing team theme songs, make their own flags, and use team-colored condoms. This is coming from a guy who has never cared about sports, but it's hard to see that a sports rivalry could ever be this ingrained, especially when both teams come from the same city. Aren't sports teams about geographical pride?
It's one of those situations that depends on an implausible tension point to carry the conflict through the whole story. All of the humor, all of the fights, all of the characterization depend on this one point, and it's quite rickety. It's especially flimsy considering that we never see much more than a friendly rivalry between the two fan groups. Romeo and Juliet at least had the brawl at the beginning; here, all we get is the groups glaring at each other as they exit the stadium. This lack of real conflict carries through the film, and it never gets rolling the way it should. As soon as the audience tires of the characters talking big about the rivalry, none if it works anymore. For me, that moment came after a few minutes. By the time the minister at the wedding speaks the lines of the original prologue, Romeo and Juliet Get Married has become a parody of itself.
Will soccer fans approach Romeo and Juliet Get Married differently? I expect so, and perhaps Brazilian soccer fans understand something about the fanatic love for a sport that I will never be able to connect with. Life Size Entertainment has certainly done a fine job with the DVD release, at any rate. The image looks fantastic, and the cinematographer uses a wide color palette. While the soccer sequences are pretty bland, the rest of the film has a natural look that the DVD captures brilliantly. The sound transfer also makes good use of all channels for the music and ambient noise. There are a surprising number of extras on the disc, which will please fans of the film. We get a commentary with Baretto and the cast, as well as a number of interviews. There are some soundtrack featurettes and videos as well, and the extras are rounded off by a pair of production featurettes. It really is a fine DVD release.
If you are a fan of both soccer and Shakespeare, you will probably find something to like in Romeo and Juliet Get Married. In the end, though, it's a bit hard to justify yet another remake of the most famous love story in the world, especially another one that uses the classic tragedy to form a generic romantic comedy. Bruno Baretto is guilty, but only of a minor offense. After all, he's certainly not the first director to rip off the bard's ideas.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Life Size Entertainment
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