Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Starring: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Maggie Smith, Michael Caine, Jason Statham
Director: Kelly Asbury
Release Date: 11 February 2011
Length: 84 minutes
Movie Rating: PG
View Format: DVD
“This animated family comedy transports Shakespeare’s classic tale of forbidden romance between two star-crossed lovers from warring families to the unlikely and irreverent world of garden gnomes.” — Netflix.com
I resisted seeing this movie as I do not enjoy the story of Romeo and Juliet. Call me a hopeless romantic, but I cannot bear to watch a story over and over where I know the lovers have no chance at happiness. I was not at all sure if the Disney writers would dare to change the story so that the two young lovers have a happy ending or if they would stay true to the original. I ended up watching it with my nieces and nephews and completely falling in love with the movie! I am thrilled to report that the ending, while schmaltzy and over the top, is a happily-ever-after. Gnomeo and Juliet’s love unites their families and ends the feud between them, which was a wonderful finale. I hope that this doesn’t ruin the movie for you! If there is any consolation, there are a lot of moments where you think their love is doomed and you completely give up on Gnomeo and Juliet’s happiness, which made the ending that much more gratifying!
Gnomeo & Juliet completely reimagines Shakespeare’s original story and replaces everyone with gnomes and other lawn decorations. I loved seeing the different gnomes and their outfits, decorations and props. Juliet’s pedestal is a completely over-the-top water feature complete with “Tiki-tiki-tiki Room” music. A red gnome is wearing a super revealing bathing suit with a thong back. A Dolly Parton cowgirl gnome starts off the lawn mower races. A fisherman delights in catching the ceramic fish attached to the end of his line over and over again. The gnomes are complemented by other lawn ornaments such as fawns, mushrooms, and bunnies. They are able to interact with toys inside the houses, as well, but they are outdoor features so they don’t have much opportunities. One of my favorite characters was a heartbroken flamingo who was separated from the love his life and was living alone. He is completely out of touch with what is going on around him, but is so loveable that you cannot help but smile when he comes on screen. I also loved watching the gnomes “freeze” when people are around. My favorite moments was when a jogger turns the corner and sees an alleyway literally packed with gnomes and it stops her in her tracks. Kind of creepy when you think about it – but so funny to watch!
Disney spared no expense on the vocal talents in this film. All of the main characters are voiced by Hollywood A-listers and this elevates the movie up above many other animated feature films. A talented animator can make you believe that the character he has created is real, but when you combine top-notch animation (and lets face it Disney is still the best out there!) with a talented actor or actress performing the vocals, you create something special and memorable. In addition to great vocals, there is some perfectly placed music in the movie. All of the music is performed courtesy of Elton John and I thought the songs were well-chosen and enhanced the storyline. I absolutely fell in love with “Hello, Hello” and thought it was the perfect accompaniment to the first meeting between Gnomeo and Juliet.
While it may seem silly to see garden gnomes fighting over their lawns and prolonging a feud that has been around for so long that no one ever remembers what is about anymore, it somehow is not. Children watching this movie may laugh at the gnomes cutting down a beloved tree or painting a fountain in the other garden, but the rivalry comes through loud and clear and it is very easy to picture this happening between real-life families and friends. Though Gnomeo & Juliet can be viewed as pure fluffy entertainment, there are still some solid lessons to be learned from the movie. Gnomeo & Juliet has a little something for everyone and viewers of all ages will enjoy watching it together. This movie is sure to please those looking for family friendly entertainment for a variety of viewers.
This movie contains some cartoon violence. There are some fights between the gnomes. Some of the gnomes end up “dead” (smashed or cracked so they cannot be fixed). The gnomes have some verbal arguments and fight with others based on the color of their hats. Recommended for viewers ages 3 and up.