Gnomeo and Juliet (2011)

Gnomeo and Juliet (2011)

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A slight re-working of the original story...
A slight re-working of the original story…

Twitter Plot Summary: It’s the same story as Romeo and Juliet, except they don’t die at the end. Spoilers!

Genre: Animation/Comedy/Family

Director: Kelly Asbury

Key Cast: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Ashley Jensen, Michael Caine, Matt Lucas, Jim Cummings, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham, Ozzy Osbourne, Stephen Merchant, Patrick Stewart, Julie Walters, Hulk Hogan.

Five Point Summary:

1. One of the only films where a ceramic mushroom is a character in itself.

2. Elton John’s original tunes = not bad, actually.

3. I like the garden gnome concept.
4. Nanette the frog – best thing in the film.
5. Casting Patrick Stewart as Shakespeare? Genius.

The main review below was originally posted on www.randomstoat.com on 03 December 2011.

In the introduction to this movie the makers acknowledge that Shakespeare’s tale of star-crossed lovers has been told time and time again, which would go some way to explaining why the pitch for this film was clearly “Romeo and Juliet. With gnomes.”

There are a number of references to other Shakespeare works (the house numbers are 2B and Not 2B respectively), but for the most part there is little to recommend this film to anyone at all. I wouldn’t go so far as to shoot it in front of its family (thanks, Mr Clarkson) but I’d certainly advise people to steer clear from it as if the movie was the smelly kid at school. No, there’s little to recommend here. Unless you’re a fan of Elton John’s music, in which case this acts more as an extended music video and will offer brief periods of life, intrigue, action and make a bit of excitement. But with gnomes. There were a lot of opportunities for some real laugh out loud moments but for the most part it falls flat and the only saving grace in the final third is the presence of Featherstone the plastic flamingo, voiced by Winnie The Pooh himself, Jim Cummings. Proof, if nothing else, that being a supporting character with a funny voice is usually enough to elicit interest. I also thoroughly enjoyed the camp by Patrick Stewart as the Bard himself. Or, rather, a statue of him.

In brief, the story sees Gnomeo and Juliet fall for each other despite the intense rivalry that exists between the red and blue gnomes living in neighbouring gardens. There’s some fun to be had with the various gnome designs but there isn’t enough emphasis on this aspect for it to really tickle the funny bone. Obviously because the families are at war with one another (or at least have a keen dislike of their rival gnomes) it’s frowned upon when they are discovered to be an item. Events come to a head when a character is bumped off, all out war takes place and an almost possessed lawn mower wreaks havoc across both gardens.And as this is a kid’s movie, don’t expect the usual Romeo and Juleit sad/tragic ending, although they do tease the audience with it almost excessively. Think about the fake endings in Lord of the Rings: Return of the King and you’re in the right area for the potential to annoy.

She's just read the script.
She’s just read the script.

The now familiar game of “guess the voice actor” occupied most of my viewing time. No idea who Emily Blunt is and nor do I intend to find out. Jason Statham crops up as the rival; Ozzy Osbourne, whilst mildly entertaining, should stick to singing heavy metal and screaming at Sharon; Hulk Hogan basically appears as himself (Terrafirminator, Brother!); and then to wrap up we’re hit with the Brit actor invasion of Michael Caine, Maggie Smith and Julie Walters, along with some more recent alumni including Stephen Merchant, Matt Lucas and Ashley Jensen. As for James McAvoy, thanks to a recent viewing of X-Men First Class all I could see (and hear) was a young Professor X babbling on about groovy mutations…

If you’re reading this and you have young kids then they’ll probably get entertainment from some of the sillier moments, but from an adult’s perspective there’s little else I can say is enjoyable. The plot meandered, the voice acting was occasionally lacking in quality, and it’s certainly no Disney/Pixar effort. Missed opportunity methinks.

Favourite scene: “Shakespeare” talks to Gnomeo, and you realise he’s being voiced by Patrick Stewart.

Quote: “The story you about to see has been told before. A lot.”

Silly Moment: Racing on lawnmowers. Really?

Score: 2/5

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_L_5vrHoWQ

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