Romeo & Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss

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Romeo & Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss is a 2006 American animated romantic fantasy film loosely following the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. The film is about two star-crossed seals, Romeo and Juliet (voiced by Daniel and Patricia Trippet respectively), who fall in love against the wishes of their warring families. It was released in Europe in mid-2006 and on October 27 in the United States.

The film was written, animated, and directed entirely by one man, former Disney animator Phil Nibbelink. The film, created on an estimated budget of $2 million, took 4½ years to complete and required 112,000 frames, all drawn by Nibbelink on a Wacom tablet directly into Flash 4 in combination with Moho software. Despite the film's negative reviews, it won an award in Best in Show at the Southwest Film Festival.

Plot

Warring Capulets (Michael Toland) and Montagues (Stephen Goldberg), portrayed as Steller and California sea lions respectively, have their feud watched sadly by Capulet's only daughter, Juliet (Patricia Trippett). A fight on the shore is ended when the Prince (Phil Nibbelink), a large and monstrous elephant seal, appears and warns the two groups that, should there be any more disturbance, the seal who caused it shall be exiled to Shark Island, a fin shaped rock where a shark lives. Romeo (Daniel Tripett), Montague's only son, is depressed, wishing to fall in love with someone. His humorous friend, Mercutio (Chip Albers), urges him and another of his friends, Benvolio (Sam Gold), to go to a Capulet party later that evening. They attend the party, covered in white sand to look like Capulets, and Romeo falls in love with Juliet at first sight. Juliet, however, was promised by her father to marry the Prince, who attends the party. Romeo and his friends manage to wreak havoc, and are revealed to be Montagues. Later that evening, the play's balcony scene is recreated on a cliff on the beach where a tree grows. Romeo promises Juliet that they shall marry the next morning, and she will not have to marry the Prince.

Romeo begs Friar Lawrence, a sea otter, to wed them. After some thought, the friar believes their marriage will end the feud between their families, and agrees. Romeo and Juliet are wed that morning and traverse the sea in their happiness. However, even the other sea and land animals strongly oppose their being together. A fish finds them a lovely couple, but warns them that they will be in big trouble if the Prince finds out. Back on the beach, Mercutio is telling many jokes, which leads to him making insulting jokes against the Capulets, and the Prince is headed in that direction. When he arrives, Mercutio mocks him as well. Romeo rushes to aid his friend, but after a struggle Mercutio falls off the cliff where Juliet met Romeo the previous evening, and everyone thinks that he is dead. The Prince, jealous of Juliet's affection for Romeo, exiles Romeo to Shark Island. In despair, Juliet seeks the Friar's help, and he gives her a potion to put her in a deathlike state. Mercutio is revealed to be alive and sees the whole thing, remarking, "What a tangled web we weave."

Lawrence shows the Capulet seals that Juliet is "dead", right as they were celebrating the marriage. But Benvolio sees her as well, and swims to Shark Island to tell Romeo. The Friar chases him to stop him, but is attacked by a shark. After receiving the terrible news from Benvolio, Romeo heads to the shore to see if Juliet is truly dead. Friar Lawrence arrives too late and tries to follow Romeo, only to have his tail maimed by the shark. After an undersea chase and some help from the fish Romeo and Juliet met earlier, Lawrence escapes and heads to the beach. A heartbroken Romeo walks past the mourning Capulets and tries to kiss Juliet, only to have some of the potion slip into his own mouth, putting him in a deathlike state as well. Both groups of seals begin to weep for their loss, and Lawrence, who has just arrived, teaches them a lesson about where hatred leads them. Suddenly, Romeo and Juliet awaken, and all is well. Mercutio returns, and the Prince finds a new mate, a large elephant seal like himself. The movie ends with the two families at peace, and Romeo and Juliet remaining together.

Why It Sucks

  1. The animation is too slow and too weak, despite that the film took 4½ years of animating and required 112,000 frames, each of which were completed in under 2 minutes and drawn on a Wacom tablet directly into Flash 4, in combination with Moho software.
  2. The character designs for the titular couple are way too creepily young for romantic leads.
  3. On that topic, they even have eyes that are just black holes, which can get creepy for viewers.
  4. Friar Lawrence looks way too much like Squirrel Merlin.
  5. Somewhat poor grasp of the source material.
  6. The villain Prince tries to be funny and threatening, but fails at both. At first, he seems intimidating, but later acts like a goofy oaf.
  7. Annoying and unlikable characters like Mercutio or Kissy the Kissing Fish.
  8. The humor and jokes are stupid, unsense, annoying, boring, brainless and sometimes unmoral, black and cruel for a family film.
  9. Unnecesary filler scenes like the scene of the Prince sings after banishing Romeo or Mercutio and Benvolio surf in a wave for cheer up Romeo.
  10. Embarrassing and anticlimax moments like Fishy sings "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" in a melancholy scene.
  11. Forced happy ending.
  12. Weak script and plot. 
  13. The ship that Romeo held Juliet on the front (similar to how Jack held Rose in James Cameron's Titanic) looks an awful lot like the Titanic.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. This film was written, animated, and directed entirely by one man, that being former Disney animator Phil Nibbelink. He even voiced one of the characters in this film. Even if the animation is slow, the fact it was done one guy over the span of 4 1/2 years is commendable.

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