Rosaline parents guide

Rosaline Parent Guide

Told from the perspective of Romeo's ex, this reimagining of the classic tale manages to hit the right notes as it transforms a tragedy into a comedy.

Overall B

Hulu: You know the story of Romeo and Juliet, but do you know the story of Romeo's ex-girlfriend, Rosaline? After being spurned by Romeo, Rosaline schemes to break up his whirlwind romance with Juliet. (Disney+ in Canada)

Release date October 14, 2022

Violence B+
Sexual Content B+
Profanity C
Substance Use C

Why is Rosaline rated PG-13? The MPAA rated Rosaline PG-13 for some suggestive material and brief strong language.

Run Time: 96 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Romeo is convinced that his name and that of his beloved will go down in history – Romeo and Rosaline.

Or not.

When Romeo (Kyle Allen) meets Juliet (Isabela Merced) at a costume ball, all thoughts of her cousin Rosaline (Kaitlyn Dever) vanish from his mind and he devotes his romantic fervor to his new love. Hiding their relationship from their feuding families, Romeo and Juliet exchange florid love letters and have furtive meetings on balconies. But one person knows what’s happening: Rosaline. She still loves Romeo and she’s not letting her man go without a fight. Since Rosaline is as clever as she is determined, she plots to subtly manipulate her little cousin into giving up her besotted swain. Or at least that’s the plan…until handsome soldier Dario (Sean Teale) gets involved, Romeo and Juliet elope, and potentially fatal potions enter the picture.

Thanks to high school English classes, we all know the story of Romeo and Juliet. Disney isn’t wasting any time on a familiar narrative: they’ve chosen instead to tell the story from Rosaline’s very jaded perspective. And they’re not telling it straight up either. Less a retelling than a parody, this story mines the plot for comic elements and spoofs the entire narrative. There are deliberate anachronisms which are played for laughs, brisk comic pacing, and engagingly silly characters.

It’s the acting that makes this comic film work. Kaitlyn Dever’s sardonic attitude kicks the movie off on the right foot and she’s matched by Dario’s cool disengagement. The real prize goes to Kyle Allen for his incredibly vacuous Romeo. This famed lover is basically the Renaissance version of a surfer dude – empty-headed, chill and laid back until he falls madly in love and starts spouting poetry. As brainless eye candy, Kyle Allen can’t be beat. Even secondary characters – Bradley Whitford as Rosaline’s weary father, Spencer Stevenson as Paris the gay best friend, and Nico Hiraga as Steve the Courier – all manage to invest their characters with a sense of reality, despite their relatively brief screen time. One of the big challenges in a comedy, especially one that veers into spoof territory, is making the characters feel real. I’m not sure how Rosaline pulls it off, but it does, and keeps us laughing as the semi-familiar tale unfolds across the screen.

Amidst the comic effervescence the writers manage to shoehorn in some serious messages. Rosaline struggles to find her place in Verona because she’s an ambitious woman who wants a career as a cartographer. Her bemused father, who is trying to get her married off, is appalled: “You’re a woman,” he splutters, “You’re not supposed to talk about what you want.” Throughout the film, Rosaline’s intelligence is front and center – and she’s also smart enough to recognize when she errs, acknowledge her faults, and do her best to make things right. She’s not a flawless protagonist but she demonstrates the importance of self-assessment and humility in personal growth and that’s something we all want teens to learn.

These positive messages come with only moderate negative content. Sex is limited to kissing and most violence takes place off screen. There is some social drinking (with underage teen alcohol consumption) and the unwise consumption of a “potion” that simulates death. There’s also unnecessary swearing, but at just over a dozen profanities, it’s a fairly low cuss count for a film aimed at teens. With high levels of fun, moderate content issues, and the potential to get teens interested in classic literature, Rosaline comes in as a win.

Directed by Karen Maine. Starring Kaitlyn Dever, Isabela Merced, Kyle Allen. Running time: 96 minutes. Theatrical release October 14, 2022. Updated

Watch the trailer for Rosaline

Rating & Content Info

Why is Rosaline rated PG-13? Rosaline is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some suggestive material and brief strong language.

Violence: There are scenes of fist fights and swordfights. Guys have a fistfight and then a swordfight. Dead and injured men are seen after a swordfight.
Sexual Content: Teenage boys and girls kiss.  A girl reads an erotic book.
Profanity: The film contains five scatological curses, six terms of deity, a sexual expletive, and a couple of minor profanities and anatomical expressions.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Teenagers drink alcohol in a bar; some are drunk. Alcohol is drunk in social situations.

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Rosaline Parents' Guide

How did the screenwriters alter the plot from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet? How did they turn it from a tragedy to a comedy?

How does Rosaline change over the course of the film? What changes her feelings about Romeo? How does Dario alter her perspective on her life and relationships? What kind of questions do you think you should ask about your own relationships? What’s the difference between love and infatuation? Which of these do you think the characters in this film experience?

Loved this movie? Try these books…

You can read Romeo and Juliet online for free at Project Gutenberg.

Reluctant readers might appreciate John McDonald’s Romeo and Juliet: The Graphic Novel: Original Text.

Lisa Fiedler gives her spin to YA readers in Romeo’s Ex: Rosaline’s Story. This Rosaline is studying to be a healer and has to figure out how to heal the breach between the Montagues and the Capulets.

Yet another take on Rosaline comes in Melinda Taub’s Still Star-Crossed. In this version, the Prince of Verona insists on ending the Montague/Capulet families by a marriage – and he decrees that Rosaline will wed Benvolio.

In Prince of Shadows: A Novel of Romeo and Juliet, author Rachel Caine devotes much of the story to Rosaline, Juliet’s convent-bound cousin, and Benvolio, Romeo’s cousin and practiced thief.

If you’re just looking for extreme silliness, you can check out A Guinea Pig Romeo and Juliet. This photo book features guinea pigs acting out an abbreviated version of the familiar tale.

Home Video

Related home video titles:

Romeo and Juliet has often been adapted for the big screen. For a traditional version, you can try the 2013 film starring Hailee Steinfeld. A contemporary retelling stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes and takes place in modern California.

The plot from the play has also been adapted for other movies. Warm Bodiesis a zombie film with a star-crossed lover theme. The same theme is at play in West Side Storywhere the lovers are separated by rival gangs.

The age-old love story inspires a young woman and guides her to a new romance in Letters to Juliet.

The story is retold for kids in an animated comedy, Gnomeo and Juliet.

The theme of marrying off an unwilling daughter is central to Catherine, Called Birdy.

Another Shakespeare play is retold from the perspective of a female character: Opheliaretells Hamlet from the story of his doomed beloved – except in this version she has a few tricks up her sleeve and a determination to control her own destiny.