Your first impression of William Shakespeare may not have been the most exhilarating of your life. In fact, you may have wiped it from your memory completely -- though it likely had something to do with a school play, discussions of iambic pentameter (what's that again?) and longingly staring at the clock.
But don't brush off this scribe so quickly, because Hollywood has proven, time and time again, that this guy knew a thing or two about being cool. And defying your parents. And dying young.
So as we prepare to welcome yet another Shakespearean remix, "Coriolanus," to the silver screen, we decided it's high time you get thee to a nunnery your favorite movie-watching spot and revisit these nine Shakespeare-inspired favorites. Then thank your high-school English teacher for trying to show you that The Bard really is the man.
1. '10 Things I Hate About You'
We're just gonna say it: This very well may be the best role of Julia Stiles' career to date (not counting her run on "Dexter," of course). Loosely based on Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew," this romantic comedy turned Heath Ledger into a teen heartthrob virtually overnight. And if Ledger's flowing locks and dance across the stadium bleachers weren't enough to sell you on the reboot, Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes an appearance, too.
2. 'Hamlet 2'
Who's everyone's favorite brooding hottie? Hamlet. Duh. And just when you thought this iconic tale of angst and betrayal couldn't get any better, "Hamlet 2" comes along, putting a modern, ahem, musical spin on the old favorite. Starring Steve Coogan as (arguably) the best/worst high-school drama teacher ever (he's a failed actor determined to create a sequel to the stage classic, in true 21st century form), this indie comedy proves that the only thing better than Shakespeare is… a cameo by Amy Poehler?
3. 'The Lion King'
It may not have occurred to you when you first saw Disney's smash hit "The Lion King," but this tale of corruption and loyalty is, some say, based on "Hamlet." Let's take a minute to let that sink in. Sure, the film had beautiful animation, as well as unforgettable characters and music (spurring it to become one of the most successful Broadway musicals of all time), but it also had a captivating story. And for that, you can thank ... you know who.
4. 'My Own Private Idaho'
What do you get when you combine Keanu Reeves, Gus Van Sant and "Henry IV"? Total awesome-ness. (Yes, that is the technical term.) In "My Own Private Idaho," director Gus Van Sant remasters the story of the King Henry IV's rebellious son, transforming him into a modern-day hustler (Keanu Reeves) working it with his best friend (River Phoenix) on the streets of Portland. If only all hustlers could look like this.
Okay, we lied; this might be Julia Stiles' best role to date. (What is it with this chick and Shakespeare?) Playing opposite hottie Mekhi Phifer and Josh Hartnett (before he got all serious), Stiles stars in a modern update on "Othello." This version, set in the world of high school basketball, features just enough drama, desire and good ol' fashioned throwdowns to turn the dark side of Shakespeare into a bright spot in teen flicks.
6. 'Romeo + Juliet'
Baz Lurhmann's '96 "Romeo and Juliet" reboot was so good it even nabbed an Oscar nod. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo and Claire Danes as Juliet, this flick turned a classic tragedy into a crime thriller and inspired many angelic prom looks that year. Maybe it was Leo's baby blues. Maybe it was all that fancy Shakespeare talk. But this is one movie that will stay with us forever.
7. 'Romeo Must Die'
In a less glossy take on "Romeo and Juliet," this action flick starred Jet Li opposite Aaliyah. The story follows an avenging cop who seeks out his brother's killer and falls for the daughter of a businessman who is involved in a (sketchy) money deal with his father. Besides the standard star-crossed lovers bit, this version has one more big thing going for it: kickass fight sequences. Need we say more?
8. 'Shakespeare in Love'
Did the greatest love-story writer of all time ever fall in love himself? This is the question posed by the '98 Academy Award winner for Best Picture. We like the drama. We love the romance. And we absolutely adore seeing Gwyneth Paltrow in drag. (Though she even looks gorgeous with the teenage boy haircut. Some things just aren't fair.)
9. 'She's the Man'
Calling all Amanda Bynes fans! Remember when Ms. Bynes starred in a twist on Shakespeare's classic "Twelfth Night"? Because we do. In yet another remake set in the world of high school sports (we see a theme developing), Bynes poses as her brother and plays on his soccer team -- only to fall for one of his teammates. Since the crush doesn't know Bynes is actually a "he," things get, well, Shakespearean.
Originally published Oct. 24, 2011.