Romeo and Juliet for Preschoolers

February 24, 2010 at 3:01 pm (Film Adaptations, Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare's Plays) (, , , , , )

Ever think about Romeo and Juliet being animated seals who fall in love despite being different colors? Yep, that’s the story line of Romeo and Juliet Sealed with a Kiss. It’s Shakespeare for preschoolers. And I have one. My 5-year-old son watched it with me and he was into it. It was not his favorite movie of all time, but he watched the whole thing (something of a thumbs up right there, since he’ll just walk away if he’s bored) and he was often laughing and enjoyed the music.

It stays fairly true to the plot of Romeo and Juliet, while softening all the harsh edges and simplifying it for kids (and of course “sealing” it). Many of the play’s characters are here, including Romeo, Juliet, Benvolio, and Mercutio. The Prince, Paris, and Tybalt are all rolled into one character… a “Prince” portrayed as an elephant seal with halitosis who tries to woo the fair Juliet at the Capulet feast held on a shipwreck.

There’s a lot of silliness, Mercutio tells many bad jokes (that my son loved), and there are a number of song and dance numbers featuring various crab bands, a speakeasy-type fish club located inside a Titanic-like shipwreck, that kind of thing. Again, think like a 5-year-old.

I thought it was cute. I’m not recommending it for adults, but I’ve suffered through worse kids’ movies. I liked the retro-style animation and it kept my attention (I’m sure partly because I’m writing this blog!). I liked the fact that a little kid would come away from this with some exposure to the plot and character names in Romeo and Juliet. There are also random Shakespearean quotes from other plays peppered throughout the movie…”Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble,” “To be or not to be,” “All the world’s a stage.” Hey, it’s culture lite, but it’s not bad.

Interestingly, I read on IMDB that this movie is basically a one-man show. Phil Nibbelink did the whole thing, from soup to nuts (from fish to crabs?).

There’s no real violence (some falling off cliffs, a shark with big teeth biting a tail, but nothing scary to my son) and there’s no death… I thought Mercutio was a goner (he fell into the water about mid-way through) but he shows up again at the end. Juliet drinks her sleeping potion and Romeo kisses her and falls asleep, too. Both families think they are dead and so learn their lesson about what’s really important. Then the lovers both wake up and all’s well that ends well!

© All Content, Copyright 2010 by Blog Author, Or What You Will. All Rights Reserved.

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  1. Ted Leach said,

    Wow. Did not know about this one, and will have to check it out, especially since my 4-year old loves seals. I’m getting really sick of the Diego Animal Rescuer “Ringed Seal” episode we’ve recorded…

    • orwhatyouwill said,

      Ha ha! It got quite a few scathing reviews, but I really thought it wasn’t bad for the little ones. 🙂

  2. Laura said,

    How cute!

  3. Renee said,

    found this on Netflix streaming…. the kids are watching it now. The oldest (8.5) knows how the real story ends, so they are all clinging to each other waiting for everyone important to die. I’m just mean enough to let them wait it out to the end and see for themselves.

    • orwhatyouwill said,

      Renee, how did they like it?

      • Renee said,

        They did like it. Stayed glued the whole time. Chaya now wants to see the real Shakespeare deal. Any suggestions on a version that would be able to keep an 8.5 year old interested. She’ll have me as a translator, but it would be nice if the film and actors themselves could keep her attention.

        • orwhatyouwill said,

          Oh, good! Chaya could definitely handle the animated version. Get that for her on netflix, but don’t let her watch Othello on the same disk (way too dark). I think she’d enjoy the animated version. The twins, maybe not so much.

          Then, I would definitely get the 1995 ballet version. I think you and she would both enjoy this a lot. Maybe the twins.

          Then, get her the 1968 Zeffirelli. I think I was not too much older than her the first time I saw it on TV. There is nothing too “adult” in it (a single boob shot is all I can think of) and I think the R&J characters are young enough that she could identify with them. If she sees this AFTER already having a good sense of the story and characters from the cartoon and ballet, I think it will keep her attention. It’s beautiful.

          I would definitely not get her the Leo/Clare Danes version. That one is not appropriate for little ones.

          Tell me how it goes!!

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