Tired of trips to crowded theaters full of noisy kids and overpriced food? Had your fill of vapid reality shows on TV? Wondering what to stock your Netflix queue with? Every week, Robert Saucedo’s “It Came From the Video Store” will point you in the direction of a movie that is worth seeing and should be available in a video store near you.
Imagine if you will, a cartoon version of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Now imagine that instead of young teenagers falling in love before they meet a tragic end, you have a story about young seals in love. Now image that, snuggled amidst the tragedy of Shakespeare’s play, you have the worst puns, pratfall-based comedy and bizarre half-assed musical numbers this side of William Shatner on Prozac.
There’s really no need to imagine, because Phil Nibbelink has created (apparently single-handedly) such a movie. Romeo And Juliet: Sealed With A Kiss translates a surprisingly large amount of Shakespeare’s classic play, about two star-crossed lovers, into a cheesy, cell-animated movie about seals. Romeo, a brown seal, has fallen for Juliet, a white seal. Torn apart by their seal races’ hatred for each other and the scheming unwanted romances of a jealous elephant seal (apparently the prince of the ocean), Romeo and Juliet strive to find a way to be together — at all costs.
A literally last-minute deus ex machina happy ending saves this film from being one of the most awkward children’s movies ever made. Imagine having to explain to your toddler why Romeo and Juliet killed each other because they couldn’t be together.
Just because the film ends on a happy note, though, doesn’t mean that there still plenty of pretty traumatic moments in the film. There are still plenty of apparent deaths to traumatize your little ones. And if the seemingly tragic end of cute and cuddly seals isn’t enough to set your child off on a crying fit, there are the absolutely horrible music numbers sprinkled throughout the film.
There are slow, spoken word doo-ops, bizarre quasi-raps, Shatner-esque Sinatra impressions and a completely inappropriate and out-of-place rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”
Speaking of inappropriate, the story introduces a character named Kissy the Kissing Fish that serves as the film’s proxy for any annoying children you might be lacking while watching the film. Much like real children do during movies, Kissy the Kissing Fish frequently makes unwanted ear-grating observations about the film’s plot — seemingly to help children understand some of the nuances about Shakespeare’s story. Apparently, the fish is voiced by the writer/director/animator’s daughter so I guess I can understand why she gets so much screen time. It doesn’t make the character any easier to stand, though.
Watching the film, I was struck by two things: a morbid curiosity about whether or not the filmmaker was actually going to end the movie with the two seals killing themselves and the observation that the movie was really about interracial dating. Instead of just having the main characters’ romance frowned upon by family members, the filmmaker chose to have all the ocean’s residents disgusted by the idea of the two seals, one brown and one white, dating. As one who is strongly against intolerance however below the sea level it may be, I can only hope for the best for my new seal friends as they venture out in their journey of color-blind love.
Romeo And Juliet: Sealed With A Kiss still sucked though.
When not watching movies he is clearly not the intended audience for, Robert Saucedo is an occasional freelance writer whose work appears regularly in the Bryan/College Station Eagle, Inside Pulse — Movies, and is now available in binary code for you nerds. Visit him on the web and read about his “Year of Bad Movies” at The Carrying On of a Wayward Son.