Tromeo and Juliet | Chicago Reader

Tromeo and Juliet

Tromeo Que (Will Keenan) attends a costume party with his best friend Murray (Valentine Miele), who promptly spits in the hors d'oeuvres but mercifully only tells us what he's going to put in one of the other dishes. At the party, Tromeo, who's dressed as a cow, meets vegetarian Juliet Capulet (Jane Jensen), who's dressed as Juliet. This 1997 version of Romeo and Juliet (“Now I don't have to read the play,” says a voice-over after the final credits) probably isn't any looser than some other stage or screen productions, though writers James Gunn and director Lloyd Kaufman have mounted Shakespeare as if they'd approve of the double entendre. Nearly every dramatic, romantic, and even narrative moment is deliberately undercut by grade-school humor, by gore that looks phony but still makes the gorge rise, by soft-core sex, or all of the above. Or maybe nearly every lame, disgusting gag and cheesy sexploit is undercut by conventional drama, forcing us to think about how relentlessly it dominates our aesthetic. Dialing through emotional tones as if they were radio frequencies, Kaufman destroys the viewer's equilibrium—the implicit social criticism is ultimately a backlash against toilet training. 107 min.

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