Love's Labour's Lost



A noble experiment that didn't quite work out.
  • Review Date: May 3, 2004
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2002
  • Running Time: 93 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

An admirably diverse cast.


Newsreel footage of World War II includes some combat and shows captives behind barbed wire.


A sexy dance scene played in masks includes a man running his tongue over a woman?s d飯lletage. Some sexual puns, though they will likely go undetected.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Brief drug reference.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that a sexy dance scene played in masks includes a man running his tongue over a woman's decolletage. There are some sexual puns, though they will likely go undetected.

Parents say

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What's the story?

The King of Navarre (Allesandro Nivola) pledges, along with three of his noblemen (Kenneth Branagh, Matthew Lillard, and Adrien Lester), to avoid romance for three years. Along comes a French princess (Alicia Silverstone) and her three handmaidens (Natascha McElhone, Carmen Ejogo, and Emily Mortimer), and the pledge is forgotten.

Is it any good?


Branagh has taken some heat in the past for injudicious casting -- Keanu Reeves in Much Ado About Nothing comes to mind -- but in LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST, just about everyone seems miscast. Branagh's rather brilliant directorial vision led him to transform this very verbal, extremely obscure play into a grand musical, full of classics by the likes of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and George and Ira Gershwin. There's just one problem: almost no one in the cast is a trained singer or dancer. So when Branagh and company let loose with their show-tunes, they come off like enthusiastic amateurs, tripping gamely but lamely about the set. There is one exception to this tendency: Broadway veteran Nathan Lane stops the movie in its tracks when he belts out "There's No Business Like Show Business." Although this production number serves little purpose, Lane winningly displays the skills that went unmastered at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Fortunately for Shakespearean novices Lillard and Silverstone, each actor has so few lines that the verse doesn't suffer as much as the songs do. But the radical editing of the play -- to make room for all that flat footwork -- renders the purpose of a number of the characters inexplicable. The pretentious tutor Holofernia (feminized from Shakespeare's Holofernes), is hilariously satirized in the play, but makes no sense whatsoever in this truncated version. All in all, this is a noble experiment that didn't quite work out. Kids would be better served by watching Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how this adaptation compares with other movies based on Shakespearean classics. Does the movie's more contemporary setting work well with the Bard's language, or do they contrast too much? What makes something a good adaptation?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 14, 2002
DVD release date:January 14, 2002
Cast:Alicia Silverstone, Kenneth Branagh, Matthew Lillard
Director:Kenneth Branagh
Topics:Book characters
Run time:93 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:sensuality and a brief drug reference

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written byMinkyMomo July 31, 2013

A great look at an underappreciated Shakespeare classic

This movie was really cute. I liked it whenever the princesses, Costard, and the old lady who teaches the boys appeared. I liked the song where the girls woke up and sang in a pool, and I liked Costard's song. The funniest parts were when Costard said "How much carnation ribbon would a man buy for a remuneration?" when he talked to the king using a hand puppet, when he accidentally pulled out a rubber chicken instead of a letter, and anytime Don Armado appeared, although sometimes I couldn't understand what he was saying due to his heavy accent. But anyway, it is a great movie.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written bybranagh April 9, 2008

Shakespeare Modernized The RIGHT Way. Kenneth Branagh Is THE GREATEST.

When I was forced to watch the ill-titled "William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet" starring Leonardo DiCaprio, I thought, " 'West Side Story' did a better job. I've already seen Kenneth Branagh's 'Henry V,' 'Dead Again,' 'Much Ado About Nothing,' 'Mary Shelley's Frankenstein' and 'Hamlet.' I LOVED all those so I'll give this one a shot." I did and I don't regret it. I admit, when I read the play, I couldn't concieve of a time in which the play should be set. Kenneth Branagh proved his mastery of Shakespeare once again, which is rivalled only by the great Sir Laurence Olivier. I have only one note of caution. There is a suggestive dance sequence, but contains no nudity. Wit that warning, I leave it up to the discretion of parents to decide the film's suitability for kids. Not Rated.
Adult Written bymisslizzie April 9, 2008


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