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Bard must be spinning over this seasick `Romeo'

October 27, 2006|Sam Adams | Special to The Times

How do you make Romeo and Juliet fun for the whole family? First, change the love-struck Veronese teenagers to smitten sea lions, the feuding Capulets and Montagues to brown and white subspecies. Then scrap that cumbersome iambic pentameter except for a few famous lines (and should a few of those lines actually come from other plays, don't sweat the small stuff). Throw in some garish animation, a few tuneless songs and a kissing fish named Kissy, and voila! A genuine tragedy, although not in the Shakespearean sense.

A comprehensive list of what's wrong with "Romeo & Juliet: Sealed With a Kiss" would stretch farther than the unabridged works of William S. But it begins with the notion of a just-for-kids take on a play whose climax is a double suicide. Don't worry: There's no dying here.

Just an unending torture, 77 minutes that feel longer than an uncut Hamlet.

The massacre of great drama might be at least forgivable were "Sealed With a Kiss" not so manifestly shoddy. The radioactive hues of Nibbelink's blobby, graceless animation sear the eye like an atom blast, and apart from the blandly peppy Romeo and Juliet (Daniel and Patricia Trippet), most of the movie's voices are so heavily post-processed in an attempt to sound "funny" that what's left of Shakespeare's dialogue is rendered nearly unintelligible.

Would that Chip Albers' psychotically bumptious Mercutio were so hard to understand. In an astonishing display of poor taste, Nibbelink periodically breaks up the mushy stuff with scenes of Mercutio barking insults at his rival tribe -- insults that are most often racist jokes with the offending epithet replaced by the word "Capulet" (i.e. "What do you call 500 Capulets on the bottom of the ocean?" "A good start.")

In the name of preaching tolerance, the film essentially hands children a long list of schoolyard taunts.

That's not suitable for all ages -- it's suitable for no one.


'Romeo & Juliet: Sealed With a Kiss'

MPAA rating: G

An Indican Pictures release. Writer-director Phil Nibbelink. Producer Margit Friesacher.

Running time: 1 hour, 17 minutes.

In selected theaters.

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