A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this film features a considerable amount of blood, violence, and explicit references to sex. Prostitution, brief nudity, teen sex, gang-related deaths, car assaults, bloody fistfights, and a gangster pointing a pistol directly at a child's face, makes this film inappropriate for kids under the age of 17. There's a strong emphasis on guns that can easily be seen as glamorization: characters sport decorated pistols and fashionably threatening jewelry (skull rings, dagger belts), not to mention an ad for bullets. Background scenery makes much use of billboards, posters, and license plates designed to mimic soda, liquor, and cigarette ads.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Against the crumbling backdrop of political and social hierarchy, a chance meeting through a neon fish tank at a masquerade ball begets a desperate pact of love between star-crossed lovers Romeo (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Juliet (Claire Danes). The well-to-do Capulets have chosen Paris (Paul Rudd), a dashing but dull TIME magazine cover boy, heir to glitzy Verona Beach, to wed Juliet. However, it's Romeo, son of the rival Montague clan, who captures her heart. The vengeance-seeking broods of both families clash during a deadly beachfront shoot-out. Sadly, the couple's final reunion ends in devastation for both families.
Is it any good?
Director Baz Luhrmann's whirling dervish adaptation of the classic tale of ROMEO + JULIET is replete with glowing surfaces, quick-cutting action, and a soundtrack that bites. This is Shakespeare for Generation X, Y, and Z. Any teenager growing up in the mid 90s will attest to the unbeatable hipness of this movie. Neon crucifixes, dazzling skylines, and festive fireworks literally light up the screen in this film. The real electricity, however, lies in the chemistry between Danes and DiCaprio. There is not a single element of the production unaffected by Luhrmann's restless mercurial bravado, including the acting, wardrobe, and set design. Thankfully, the transported text survives the transition between eras, due to the director's attention to detail.
The film's bouncing soundtrack, MTV-style cinematography, and all-star cast will have teens begging to see Romeo + Juliet. Parents are cautioned against permitting tweens and under to view this film due to its extreme violence, gross materialism, and sexual innuendo. And it is best if parents accompany their kids who are allowed to view this graphic retelling of the classic.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about issues such as conflict-resolution, peer pressure, and their alternatives.
What could the Montagues and Capulets have done in order to make peace?
Were there alternatives to Romeo and Juliet's choices?
Did they truly believe suicide was the only way, and if so, what circumstances in the film drove them to feel this way?
- In theaters: November 1, 1996
- On DVD or streaming: May 25, 1999
- Cast: Claire Danes, John Leguizamo, Leonardo DiCaprio
- Director: Baz Luhrmann
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 120 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: scenes of contemporary violence and some sensuality
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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