"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 28 May 1999. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Pimping the Bard is nothing new. You can see the lame thefts as far back as the 1955 gangster flick Joe MacBeth and as far away as Ran, the 1985 Japanese adaptation of King Lear. Even My Own Private Idaho, with Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix (Joaquin's dead older brother), passed itself off as a trade version of Henry IV, Part I. (Even harder to believe, though no less accurate, is the idea that the SCTV cult fave Strange Brew aspires to be a certain north-of-the-border Hamlet, with Bob and Doug Mackenzie sitting in for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.)

Of course, the man from Stratford-Upon-Avon burst onto Spin-level hipness with the 1996 DiCaprio-Danes, MTVish William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, with Miami Beach standing in for Verona, Glocks traded for swords, and the Crips and Bloods in place of the Capulets and Montagues. With the rise of the age of Gwyneth; The Taming of the Shrew providing the prom theme for Ten Things I Hate About You; Calista Flockhart raking in middlebrow art-house bucks in A Midsummer Night's Dream; and a pending hip-hop, B-ball version of Othello called O, we think it's high time to put money in our purse with some similarly misguided literary desecrations.