Friday, February 11, 2011

REVIEW: Gnomeo & Juliet (2011)

Gnomeo & Juliet (2011). Dir: Kelly Asbury. Starring the voices of James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Ashley Jensen, Michael Caine, and the music of Elton John.

I know what you're thinking: Gnomeo and Juliet? But, Marie, you don't watch kids' movies. You watch cool movies, foreign movies, arty movies. What's up?

What's up was that my husband has a client who was involved in the movie, and we got to attend the local premiere last night and you know what? I really liked it. It was sweet and fun and a lot better than I expected.

The story is pretty simple- an animated kids' version of Romeo & Juliet starring rival factions of garden gnomes, painted in candy-brights and voiced by an impressive cast of British actors, punctuated by the musical stylings of Elton John. The love story is cute; Juliet meets Gnomeo one night when she goes out of her garden to steal a beautiful orchid. They fall in love, but their love is doomed- right? Well, this is a kids' movie so no double suicides here, but it's a long road to happiness for our ceramic paramours. On the way they race lawnmowers and meet a lonesome pink flamingo lawn ornament in search of his own lost love.

The movie sticks pretty close to the original Shakespeare in its broad strokes, and there are lots of sight gags and verbal puns to keep adults entertained. I'm not sure I would take very small children to see it because of some scary stuff involving an aggressive lawnmower called the TerraFirminator and some references to the fates of the original Romeo and Juliet (in an entirely unnecessary scene when Gnomeo confers with a statue of Shakespeare) but most 9-11-year-olds would probably have fun and it's a gentle introduction to the Bard. Elton John's music is interspersed throughout- it's basically an Elton John musical when you get down to it- and adds a nice dimension to the movie. Gnomeo & Juliet is a good time and a sweet treat.

Rating: RENT

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  1. Glad you liked it!!! Looks really cute! This one is on my list to see!

  2. Okay--when I first saw the trailer, I thought this the most ridiculous thing ever, but I have been reading good reviews, and my teens really want to see maybe when it comes out on Netflix.

  3. I took my kids, who were all abuzz about it (great marketing!) I also thought it was cute, and I really appreciated the references included for the adults, though some were more random than others (Let loose the dogs of war, for example). Great use of Elton John's music, and the signature song was stuck in my head for at least 2 days. Far from a classic, though - rather forgettable (despite the catchy song) and one I can't really imagine sitting through again.