Hey film fans, Slick Dungeon here. I’m back to review the next pick on the Oscar list, West Side Story from 2021. There will be some mild spoilers in this review so if you feel strongly about that go watch the movie first and come back here for the review.
West Side Story (2021) is the film that dares to ask what if Romeo and Juliet was set in New York amidst a couple of gangs of street thugs who not only look tough but are also really good at choreography and harmonizing with one another. It answers this bold question with a resounding… meh.
The plot is basically Romeo and Juliet through and through. The songs might have been innovative at the time they came out but now they don’t really land. The film looks good but it doesn’t have any real substance.
I don’t have anything against musicals, in fact I like a lot of them, and I don’t have anything against West Side Story the musical. But watching this updated version felt wholly and completely unnecessary. While the acting and singing and dancing are all fine here and the cinematography is fantastic this still felt seriously outdated. Not to mention the fact that there is an old version of this musical which everyone is always going to think of as the best version of this musical.
If you’ve never seen West Side Story or never read Romeo and Juliet maybe the events in the film will come as a surprise to you but I guarantee you, you have seen this story before. The songs are passable but still feel like they come from a bygone era of both theater and cinema and don’t exactly resonate in today’s era.
If we are going to nominate a musical with something to say that might resonate with a current audience, I think In the Heights would have been a far better choice.
If you are a huge fan of musicals and have been just hoping for a decent remake of West Side Story this will serve you well. Anyone outside of that audience can really skip this one and be none the worse for it. Maybe go watch Tick, Tick… Boom! or even Encanto instead. Those are far more innovative films and in my opinion more worthy of Oscar nominations than this one.