Box art for West Side Story

West Side Story

  • Rated NR
  • HD and SD formats available

music & musicals

Winner of ten Academy Awards including Best Picture, this electrifying musical sets the ageless tragedy of Romeo and Juliet in the slums of 1950s New York and stars Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 11
2 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
2 out of 5
3 out of 5
Positive messages
2 out of 5
Positive role models
1 out of 5

Musical masterpiece tackles race, with some violence.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this updated Romeo and Juliet story explores race relations and immigration within a musical format. Street fighting and knifings are depicted, though some of the violence is lessened by the choreography. In one disturbing scene, a gang of boys physically abuses a young woman and a rape almost takes place. A major character is killed.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the issues of racism, immigration, gangs, and youth culture. What do you think the two gangs would say about the American Dream?
  • What kinds of stereotypes are explored in this movie? Does the movie serve to challenge or reinforce stereotypes?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

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  • Audience


Audience Reviews

4 stars

A film I adored from young, based on Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, WSS is an updated adaption of the original star crossed lovers theme. Whilst this is a film made in 1961, the setup is still so relevant to gang rivalry in today's time, granted the style of storytelling in the forum of a musical with very dramatic song and dance, may not quite be the way this tale is shown, but all the same the meaning remains familiar. Some very memorable songs throughout and of course like it's influence, a tragic love story.

- 76Majikat, Friday, September 10, 2010

3 stars

I just don't know what possessed someone to remake Romeo and Juliet as a modern day musical, but somehow it has become a classic. I think on a serious note this a terrible movie and one of the corniest and unrealistic depictions of gang-life period. The acting is so hammy and over the top that I feel like someone should have told the production that it was ridiculous. The only good thing I can say about this movie is Robert Wise's above average looking musical sense, the crane shots are really the shining moment. It's a disaster and not even close to being the movie it is built up to be.

- ythelastman89, Friday, June 4, 2010

4 stars

Pretty solid movie musical, but not completely solid or devoid of flaws and nitpicks. As far as being an adaptation of Romeo & Juliet goes, it's mostly faithful, but loses it (and badly) at the end by softening the tragedy. I loved how this movie went for social commentary and was a bit edgy, but at the same time, it could (and should) have been edgier, and it's hard for me to completely judge the historical accuracy of the events on display. The music and choreography are the best parts though, even though sometimes they lead to a bity of silliness and campiness. Basically the movie as a whole is uneven, but it's so energetic, fast-paced, and entertaining that ultimately it is a winner more than a loser. I'm not a fanboy for editing techniques like I am for camera gimmicks (like tracking shots and dolly zooms), but I loved the transitions and the artsyness of things-style that was showy, but not overbearing. I'd prefer it if things would have been really dark, but given the time it came out, and especially that the story is set as a musical, it is forgivable.

- cosmo313, Friday, January 1, 2010