July 16, 2012

Movie Monday: Top Five Teen Movie Shakespeare Adaptations

People love making movies of Shakespeare's works.  I love most of those movies, especially when they use the bare bones of the plot to make a teen movie.  There is always something delightful about a teen movie based on Shakespeare.  Here's my top five:

Get Over It5.  Get Over It

This will probably be my most contentious pick, because I don't think Get Over It has many fans.  This comedy not only has A Midsummer Night's Dream-inspired love triangle shenanigans, it also has a musical version of the play!  The talented ensemble includes Kirsten Dunst, Colin Hanks, Martin Short, and Swoosie Kurtz.  But the real reason to see this one is Shane West's performance as Striker, an egocentric and shallow pop star.  And honestly, I enjoy Get Over It far more than I should.  For fans of silly comedies and strange musical numbers.

She's the Man 4.  She's the Man

She's the Man, based on Twelfth Night, is both Amanda Bynes' best movie and the film that brought us Channing Tatum.  How you take that statement depends on how you feel about Channing Tatum.  This is a light, enjoyable comedy full of unconvincing crossdressing and unsubtle gender politics.  I admit to being a little disappointed the first time I saw this one, but I like it more every time I see it.  I think my expectations were too high originally, because She's the Man does have many fans.  For fans of mistaken identity, soccer, and boarding school settings.

O 3.  "O"

"O" is the first, but not the last, tragedy on this list.  It is also not the last to star Julia Stiles.  "O" moves the story of Othello to a modern private school where Odin (Mekhi Phifer) is a basketball star.  This one is far more faithful to the story than Get Over It or She's the Man, but no less accessible.  "O" is a touch dated.  The presence of Josh Hartnett alone marks this a a turn of the millenium movie.  For fans of unhappy endings, basketball, and messages of non-violence.

Romeo + Juliet 4.  Romeo + Juliet

Baz Luhrmann has a lot of haters.  I can see where they come from - his style is hyper-kinetic, overproduced, and generally designed to induce sensory overload.  But I love it and the man even has me looking forward to a movie version of THE GREAT GATSBY.  When Luhrmann set Romeo and Juliet in modern California but kept the language, he knew what he was doing.  Claire Danes' scansion is perfect and Leonardo DiCaprio is at the height of his days as a teen heartthrob.  For fans of romance and tragedy who don't have epilepsy.

10 Things I Hate About You 5.  10 Things I Hate About You

Romeo + Juliet fought for this spot, but it can't beat the movie that made Heath Ledger a star.  Even if you haven't seen 10 Things I Hate About You, you've probably heard someone quote it.  You should watch it just to know what they're talking about.  (And to see wee little Joseph Gordon-Levitt.)  The Taming of the Shrew is one of my least favorite Shakespeare plays, but I still love this movie.  Long live the king of teen Shakespeare adaptations!  For fans of witty repartee, Heath Ledger, and awesome women.


  1. I've actually seen most of these, but Get Over It sounds awesome and I have NOT seen that. I really like She's the Man. Very fun. I forgot Channing Tatum was in it.

    Romeo and Juliet was pretty cool, I thought, and I always love a younger Leo.

    And 10 Things I Hate About You is very fun and Heath Ledger was great, I thought.


    1. How can you forget Channing Tatum?

  2. I loved 10 THINGS and ROMEO AND JULIET. I haven't seen the others. Now that I know Channing Tatum is in one of them, well...

  3. Oh, great post! I'm mad about Shakespeare, though I rarely click with the modernized versions. "10 Things I Hate About You" was pretty great to me, not as a Shakespeare adaptation but as a teen comedy--I think it almost works better if you don't know the origins.

    I like Baz Luhrman's Romeo + Juliet, too. It's overblown and has this odd gritty/glitzy affect, but it really captures the beauty of the old language in a surprising way.

    1. I'm pretty crazy about Shakespeare, be it old or modernized. (After all, Shakespeare's own plays were often modernized versions of older stories.)

      I really want to watch R + J again now. It's amazing how direct the language seems, when paired with Luhrmann's visuals.

  4. I have seen and loved most of these (not a big fan of O). 10 Things has to be #1; always. There's no way any of these other films can compete. And as a long-time fan of Amanda Bynes, I have to adore She's the Man-a family favorite that we've introduced to a lot of other people who also loved it.

    1. I had trouble arranging "O" and She's the Man - I think She's the Man has held up better over time.


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