this is high concept. A garden-gnome Capulet and Montague love story in
which garden decorations declare their true love, tend kitschy lawns, race
on power mowers and rock out to early Elton John tunes – all under the
disapproving gaze of their feuding families. We have talking frogs and
magic mushrooms and chatty plastic pink flamingos.
even have a talking William Shakespeare statue in case you missed the
connection to the play which served as this movie’s inspiration – though how
could you with the punnily awful title?
course, making a kid’s version of Romeo & Juliet has its hazards.
After all, most children’s films don’t climax with a double suicide – and
probably for good reason.
you’re going to take one of the classic pieces of world literature and have
to defang it to make it palatable for family audiences. However, you have
to wonder: is there really any reason to retell Romeo & Juliet
without the tragic ending?
Gnomeo & Juliet gives the viewer is a shrugged maybe. The
cute and kind of funny in parts, but I doubt that the movie will ever become
a favorite like many of the Disney films that preceded it. It’s a
babysitter essentially; it will keep the kiddies happy and be mostly
painless for the adults who can pick up on the references to the earlier
text and chuckle appreciatively.
again, part of how you react to Gnomeo revolves around your interest
in the movie’s kitschy universe. Personally, I found it a bit tough to get
a huge emotional investment on the life of a bunch of characters who are
cheesy garden art – even though there are some fine voice actors such as
James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Michael Caine and Dame Maggie Smith bringing them
recognize that the film was trying to give the plastic characters a
romantically charming secret life out of view of the humans – much like the
Toy Story films – but I find it hard to believe that many or even any
people have the same fantasies of life for garden gnomes as they do for
Perhaps it’s a British thing (this film has a very British sensibility), but
I found the colorful plastic tackiness of the battling backyards – they
literally had a planter made of an old toilet – sort of depressing. It’s
just not a world for me.
Also, as an American critic trained to look for subtext, I kept wondering if
the red gnome/blue gnome divide has a deeper political meaning, though on a
guess I’d say in this British production that the answer is no.
again, as a single adult man, I am certainly not the target audience for
this movie. For a younger, more suburban audience, I think that Gnomeo &
Juliet will be charming enough to pass the time in a pleasant, if not
overly stimulating, way.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: May 20, 2011.