The Clubhouse Podcast
Rob Reviews "West Side Story" (2021)
I will be the first to admit that I may not be the best source to go to in order to review Steven Speilberg's version of "West Side Story". There are a couple of factors at play here: 1 - I'm not really a big fan of the original 1961 version; 2 - I've been dealing with "Romeo and Juliet" since I was thirteen years old, and the story didn't do much for me back then; and 3 - that last thing is so much so that I still haven't seen the Baz Lurhmann version (and I am a big fan of everyone involved in that thing). However, it is important for us to discuss films no matter our interest going in, so let's get to it.
If you are not familiar, Tony (Ansel Elgort) and Maria (Rachel Zegler) fall for each other at a community dance in late 1950s New York City. Due to their ethnic, familial, and social differences, those around them are less than thrilled at the concept of them being together. They do their best to let love conquer all... and then, Shakespeare.
I am by no means a Spielberg apologist, but the guy has enough stroke in the business at this point that I can say... Spielberg's gonna Spielberg. He could say he wants to make a film about the plight of the pterodactyl, Hollywood would throw a billion dollars at him. Even thusly, I spent most of the time watching this film simply asking "Why?". Granted, my question is not on the level of the "Why?" that came with Gus Van San't's "Psycho," but with a run time that only differs from its predecessor of three minutes, there just isn't much here that sets it apart.
The cast here is good (Zegler and Ariana DeBose's Anita are particular standouts), and if you have Rita Moreno (who also executive produced) read the phone book for two hours, I am in. (Corey Stoll also has a small role, and I am a big fan of that guy.) I just don't know if the reasoning of doing this film for a new generation really means anything because the look and feel mirror that of the original version. (This is actually a compliment, as it is shot and presented beautifully.)
Overall, I cannot say that "West Side Story" is a bad film, but I would just have assumed to have gotten the anniversary Blu-Ray and watched it at the house. I wouldn't steer anyone away from it if you are bent on going, but you know...