“Romeo and Juliet” has remained invulnerable to numerous contempo translations and will remain so, long after writer-director-producer Charles T. Kanganis’ “Rome & Jewel” has faded from memory. R & J rap their way to an early grave in this tone-deaf and culturally silly adaptation, which pits Beverly Hills whites against Compton blacks. The few who catch it in select big-city venues or on latenight cable might wonder which is dumber: the movie’s clueless sense of geography and time, or the idea of making a square hip-hop “musical.”
Rome (Nate Parker) is fed up with his preacher father (Cleavant Derricks) but can’t find a way to channel his anger until he encounters the Los Angeles mayor’s daughter, Jewel (Lindsey Haun), who unaccountably lives in Beverly Hills. After rapping sweet nothings to each other and stoking the ire of Jewel’s cousin Ty (Greg Siff), the pair — knowing they’re deep in love and deeper in trouble — trek to Vegas for a quickie wedding. They then make the titanic mistake of not simply staying in Vegas, and instead return to Los Angeles and certain tragedy.