‘John Tucker Must Die’ is actually a Shakespeare adaptation

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William Shakespeare the record may be for “author whose work has been adapted the most in history.” Many of his plays have been adapted, remixed, or have been the inspiration for numerous films and television series. Naturally this means his main plays such as Hamlet or Romeo & Juliet has undergone several changes. But one of the lesser known stories,The Merry Wives of Windsorit actually got its own movie in the form of 2006 John Tucker must die.

What is ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’ about?

John Tucker's team must die
Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox

The Merry Wives of Windsor has its roots in another play written by Shakespeare, Henry VI. According to legend, after seeing the first part of the play, Queen Elizabeth I asked the Bard to write a play focusing on the character of Sir John Falstaff. Falstaff was a fierce and loving knight who was an adviser to the King of England, but The Merry Wives of Windsor finding him down on his luck and broke even. In a desperate attempt to get money, Falstaff decides to capture two rich women, Master Ford and Mistress Page.

A series of problems arise: not only are the two women married, but Falstaff soon finds himself in hot water when his servants spill the beans to their husbands. Even worse for the knight is the fact that the mistresses Ford and Page soon learn about his intentions… Not only The Women of Mary a truly funny play, but it also marks a departure from Shakespeare’s usual work. Up to that time, most of his plays ended in tragedy. Romeo & Juliet they killed his loved ones, Hamlet seeing the faithful prince go mad, and Macbeth has one of the highest body counts in fictional history. In contrast, The Merry Wives of Windsor It’s a lighthearted effort that just ends with a huge embarrassment for Falstaff.

What connections does ‘John Tucker Must Die’ have with ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’?

This leads to John Tucker must die. The Betty Thomas-helmed film reveals that he has the title lothario (Jesse Metcalfe) meets three girls: Carrie (Ariel Kebbel), Heather (Ashanti), and Beth (Sophia Bush). When the girls learn about Tucker’s double-crossing, they decide to get revenge by enlisting the help of new girl Kate Spencer (British Snow). Kate will pretend to be John until now, as she waits for the right moment to destroy his reputation. But if you’ve seen a teenage romance, you might guess that she falls for him.

Like The Merry Wives of Windsor, John takes after Sir Falstaff in his attempt to attract many women. But unlike the titular knight, he’s not after money – he’s just a popular kid who thinks he can have it. John Tucker he is also far more merciful towards Tucker than The Merry Wives of Windsor towards Falstaff, and he makes it through the film with his respectability very intact. Prime example: on one of their dates, Kate tricks John into wearing a pair of her panties and sneaks into her room…but she doesn’t reveal that he is a teacher. However, John is able to convince the other members of his basketball team that wearing these panties improves his game. Yes, this was a real plot point in the movie.

Both the film and the play also had a similar reception. While The Merry Wives of Windsor a departure from the usual Shakespearean fare, it was not well received. Criticism of the play centered on Falstaff’s portrayal, as well as the play’s brevity. Also, while he was getting a small box office profit John Tucker must die he was desperately tired. Perhaps the harshest review came The New York Times, with then-film critic Jeannette Catsoulis ripping into Metcalfe’s performance. She wrote that it “gathers fewer phrases than a Botox infomercial. “Ouch!

STORIES: This Shakespeare Adaptation has one of the most impressive Ensemble Casts

‘John Tucker Must Die’ continues in the tradition of teen movies adapting famous plays

Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles point to the camera in 10 Things I Hate About You
Photo via Touchstone Pictures

In drawing his inspiration from The Merry Wives of Windsor, John Tucker must die following in the footsteps of its predecessors in the late nineties/early 2000s teen genre by adapting a Shakespeare play. I’m not kidding; this was a real thing. 10 Things I Hate About You inspired by Taming of the Shrew. oh is contemporary Othello. even She is The Man – which coincidentally happened to fall into the one year from John Tucker must die – is a turn of Twelve nights. By all rights, John Tucker must die these other films should be discussed. So where were they making films zig where John Tucker zag?

The answer may be in casting. Outside the snow, John TuckerThe cast is one note and plays to a range of stereotypes. Although critics may have been rather harsh on Metcalfe, the fact remains that John is a very stable character – only a major change at the end of the film. In contrast, the characters in 10 Things I Hate About You and She is The Man have plenty of time to grow and change. Not only that, they are portrayed by far more dynamic actors such as the late, great Heath Ledger for 10 Things and Channing Tatum for She is all that. Filmmaking is its own special kind of alchemy – a good script and direction can only take a filmmaker so far, as a large part of their success rests on the shoulders of the people who live in the careers. In John Tucker must diein the case it was not quite enough.

Perhaps the biggest difference is in time. John Tucker must die, despite its premise, falls into most of the cliches that plagued other films in the genre. The jock with a heart of gold, the girl next door, the hormones and the hijinks; it had been done before, and in much better films. In contrast, The Merry Wives of Windsor is an example of a writer taking a step outside his wheelhouse – it may not have clicked, but it was proof that Shakespeare could be funny. Betty Thomas may have taken that particular page from the Bard’s playbook.

John Tucker must die available to stream on Hulu.

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