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Much Ado About Anyone But You

By Ari Eisenstadt, Features & Games Editor

Fear sparks in the air when students hear the word Shakespeare. Aside from the iambic pentameter and funky sentences, Shakespeare may seem foreign to the average high school student. Who wants to read about some dukes and their children's love lives? So, it may be shocking to many people when they learn that some of their favorite romcoms are Shakespeare adaptations, such as West Side Story, She’s The Man, and 10 Things I Hate About You. Recently a new movie, Anyone But You, has joined this list of successful movie adaptions at 5th place in IMBd ranking and gaining multiple nominations, along with one award. Anyone But You is an adaptation of the Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing, and this article will be your no-fear Shakespeare guide to this movie's easter eggs. 

Before looking at the plot and themes, the main characters' names have stayed nearly the same, with the two leads’ names being nicknames of the original, Bea and Ben, who used to be Beatrice and Benedict. This pattern continues with almost all of the other characters, such as Claudia, Ben’s friend, and one of the people getting married, who is initially called Claudio. But none of what I’m saying makes sense without explaining who these characters are and how they relate to each other. Both the play and movie revolve around the marriage of Claudia, Bea’s Sister, and Halle, Ben’s childhood friend and his best friend's sister. Bea and Ben first meet six months before the wedding which ends in hatred, so when they reconnect at Cladia and Halle’s wedding their feud starts to cause trouble.

Due to Bea and Ben’s quarrel and the mess they cause, the movie writer decides to employ one of Shakespeare's favorite techniques of trickery: convincing individuals to think something by having them purposely overhear a conversation. In this case, the family and friends and the enemies try to convince them that they like each other. In one of these staged and loud conversations to trick Ben, his best friend Pete says, "Some cupids kill with arrows and some with traps,” which is directly from the original play. The movie references its inspiration text a second time during Halle’s wedding vows, saying, “I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest,” which was initially Beatrice’s declaration of love to Benedict. 

Despite the many similarities, the movie differentiates from the book because of the different characters. Most significantly, Don John, the book’s villain, is absent in the film because of the time constraints of film work. Therefore, the movie had to create new causes for conflict that focused more on Bea and Ben, such as their fake dating trope. The movie also includes other characters, primarily ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends, that Much Ado About Nothing never discusses. While this movie is not a direct reproduction of the play, many parallels are still adored by audiences, so the next time you pick up a Shakespeare play, don’t dread it; instead, take a deeper look to see if it could be the next hit rom-com. 


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