Bad Movies Done Right — Romeo & Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss

Every day Robert Saucedo shines a spotlight on a movie either so bad it’s good or just downright terrible. Today: Underwater interracial dating.

Oh. My. God.

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, prat fall-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.

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 my 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 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. Crazy.

Just because the film ends on a happy note 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 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 screentime. 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.

Watching the two animals struggle to share their passion for each other while having to deal with the ocean’s prejudice gave me much to think about while I watched the crudely drawn cell animated characters play out over bizarre acid-inspired backgrounds.

Both of my sisters are in relationships with white men and almost every girl I have dated has been Caucasian. Even still, though, I couldn’t relate to Romeo, my brown brother of another species, deal with all the grief that came about due to his dipping in the powdered sugar. I’ve never dealt with any similar prejudice when I’ve dated white girls. Maybe its because I’m not that Hispanic — with my pale, sunlight deprived skin and complete lack of accent. Or maybe it’s just because us humans have progressed beyond the petty racism that still plagues the ocean.

Whatever the case, 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.

Robert Saucedo can’t watch a movie about seals without thinking of that scene from Faces of Death. Follow him on Twitter @robsaucedo2500.

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