It’s hard to find any artist, let alone writer or playwright, that has a more revered and canonized body of work than William Shakespeare. His works have been treated reverentially by the most esteemed actors of this and previous generations. Unfortunately, his work isn’t just used as inspiration for great films. His seminal concepts and themes have been unavoidable in modern cinema because a) they’re timeless and rich, and b) lots of moviemakers are lazy. With the latter in mind, let’s take a look at a few instances in which the producers don’t do justice to the source material of their adaptations. Nope. Not one bit.
To give you an idea of what we’re dealing with here, O is a modern re-telling (something we’ll see lot of on this list) that was completed in 1999, but not released until 2001 because of the Columbine massacres. If you have to change the release date of your Shakespeare adaptation out of sensitivity to a school shooting, that should be a red flag right there.
This is one of those films where even the names of the characters are updated so that Iago is “Hugo,” Desdemona is “Desi,” Othello is now “OJ,” Rodrigo is “Roger,” and Cassio is “Michael Cassio.” The cast includes Mekhi Phifer, Julia Stiles, and Josh Hartnett, which leads me to believe that sensitivity to Columbine wasn’t the only factor in shelving this film for a couple years.
Sure, this isn’t a work for Shakespeare completists, but the fact remains that it’s a bad film and the fact that they soiled the Bard’s name with it is even worse.
Amanda Bynes. Channing Tatum. Vinnie Jones: It’s like we’re back at the Globe Theatre! Basically, the team behind She’s the Man took a thoughtful and prescient look at gender studies and turned it into Reverse Ladybugs. Bynes plays Viola Davis, a girl who enters her brother’s school as a boy to play on the boys soccer team.
The school she enters is called Cornwall, which is a fun little nod, and its principal is played by David Cross, who is…not fun in almost any role besides Tobias Funke. This movie made $33,000,000 in 2006, which makes me wonder who exactly paid to see She’s the Man.