"In art," wrote Goethe, "the best is good enough." Whatever he meant, he was probably right. And yet most of us art lovers occasionally feel the call to relax our standards and have a nice, juicy wallow in a reeking heap of garbage. That's what the Troma Team, a little independent studio out of New York, aims to supply. Since 1985's The Toxic Avenger, Troma has employed an aesthetic that mixes transgressiveness with deliberate camp to produce dozens of low-brow, low-budget, mostly straight-to-video bad movies. Good bad movies? 'Fraid not. Generally, this sort of enterprise only comes off when the people behind it are merely pretending to be stupid. The auteurs of Troma aren't pretending.
Tromeo and Juliet has been trumpeted as "Troma's best movie ever"; in a way, it's their worst movie ever, because it reminds the viewer, however distantly, of something that's worth watching. The travesty-of-a-plot features a Romeo figure who wanks to an interactive CD-ROM, a Juliet who welcomes molestation by her nurse, and a cinema-vérité nipple-piercing sequence. Naughty, naughty. I'm not sure what's worse: the incessant, laborious attempts at humor, or the fact that, for Troma, the visual language of film might as well be Greek. If you can imagine how stupefying a Russ Meyer flick would be without the inventive camerawork and editing, then you've got a pretty good idea what an ordeal it is to sit through Tromeo and Juliet. Unless, of course, you just want to see a lot of tits. (Steve Schroer)