I bet you thought I was done talking about James Gunn for a while after the Slither review? Nope, on a happy accident, I’m not. This last weekend I found myself with some free time, so I pursued my Netflix que. You know, like you do and found Tromeo & Juliet a modern retelling of the classic Shakespearean love story, but with the Troma twist. Gunn has a history with Troma, with his early directorial and screenwriting done with the infamous and beloved studio. As a fan of Shakespeare with a Romeo & Juliet being my favorite of his tragedies, I feel I should hate this film. The thing is I don’t and as far as a modern adaptation/retelling or however you wanna look at it. I have seen much less faithful adaptations that weren’t nearly as entertaining. Apparently Gunn sold his script for 150$ with Lloyd Kaufman directing.
If you’ve seen or read Romeo & Juliet you know the plot of Tromeo & Juliet. While there are huge differences in characters and their relationship with characters, yet it still manages to keep the same story and many of the events intact. Well for the first couple acts, in the final act shit goes sideways in quick order. The final part of Tromeo & Juliet differs wildly yet still manages to be satisfying.
Something I really enjoyed was the use of semi-iambic pentameter. While the film isn’t completely in iambic pentameter, it has enough and at times using some unaltered dialog straight from Romeo & Juliet. T&J hits a blend so these parts never feel out of place, askew or jarring.
I did enjoy the change in the traditional feuding families. In all the adaptations I’ve seen that I can easily recall the families are equals in status. Here the families are not and the feud is explained. When in other adaptations the reason behind the feud is never explained. This might sound trivial, but for me it really stuck out. It was nice to see the subject addressed for a change.
One of the major Tromaifications that Romeo & Juliet underwent was the addition of numerous sex scenes. At times it felt like I was watching late night Cinemax back in the late 90s. Which as this film came out in 1995 there’s a good chance it was there. While Troma has never shied away from the use of nudity, here it feels more like soft core porn than a Comedy. So yes, this film isn’t a horror film, but as Netflix categorized it as such I’m giving it a pass. Plus it’s Troma doing Romeo & Juliet, how could I not talk about it?
Final thoughts, it’s alright. I did enjoy it but often falls short of it’s intended mark. While it hasn’t supplanted Warm Bodies as my favorite Romeo & Juliet adaptation, Tromeo & Juliet was entertaining and kept me invested. Llyod Kaufman’s hand can really be felt in the Directors chair. Any film with Llyod Kaufman’s involvement in it seems to shoot up the enjoy ability significantly. With over the top acting, the use of stock footage and off the wall humor, this film might be among my favorite Troma films, still Tromeo & Juliet gets an unexpected 6.5/10. As I feel that to enjoy T&J you have to already have to know and like Shakespeare’s Classic. So much of what the film is parodying would be lost on the average reader. But if your already a fan of Romeo & Juliet give this one a watch, it’s worth it.