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Gnomeo & Juliet (review)

Where Fart Thou

I must say that it’s lovely to see film producers such as Gnomeo & Juliet’s David Furnish giving such extraordinary exposure to an up-and-coming singer-songwriter such as this unknown Elton John kid someone dug up somewhere. The spirited pop songs that trill through the cartoon adaptation of William Shakespeare’s classic tale of star-crossed lovers bring a fresh spin to a familiar tale: “Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting”? What a novel way to express the longstanding feud between the garden gnomes of neighboring homes! “Your Song”? Garden gnomes from opposite sides of the fence in love! “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”? Garden gnomes torn apart by longstanding family feud! If we’d heard these songs before — say, oh, a million times over the past 30 years — they might not have the power to move and surprise us in the way they do here. This Elton John guy: he could be a big star, just like the little gnome with big sparkly sunglasses who sings in that one bit here! The sparkly gnome just comes out of the blue, like he’s supposed to be the ghost of awesome romance, maybe!
Cuz did I mention? It’s garden gnomes… in love… even though they’re supposed to hate each other! It’s funny cuz they’re plaster lawn decorations and say things like “Let’s kick some grass!” and have a plastic pink flamingo pal with a funny generic South American accent who gives them wise advice about romance. It’s all really a bit cheeky, too, to have this mysterious and modest John substituting for the insight and authority of William Shakespeare. Tragic ending? That’s rubbish! You can’t hop and bop to the Crocodile Rock if you’re dead by poisoning! (“Crocodile Rock” is another song by this Elton John guy you’ve never heard before, but you won’t be able to get it out of your head after you see Gnomeo & Juliet!)

The Montagues — they’re human people, not gnomes — live at 2B Verona Street in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. That’s where Shakespeare lived. Not 2B Verona Street — though we don’t know that he didn’t! — but Stratford. The Capulets live at Not 2B Verona Street. That’s funny cuz some of it’s from Romeo & Juliet and some of it’s from Hamlet, which Shakespeare also wrote. And maybe if Hamlet had festooned his yard with cheerful garden gnomes, like the Montagues and the Capulets have done here, he wouldn’t have been such a grump. (And maybe if Shakespeare had had garden gnomes, he wouldn’t have written such a rubbish downer of an ending for his version of Gnomeo & Juliet!) But the blue gnomes of the Montagues’ garden — well, they’re not actually blue, but they wear a lot of blue caps and such — and the “red” Capulets don’t get along. At all. Until Gnomeo (the voice of James McAvoy: Wanted, Atonement) and Juliet (the voice of Emily Blunt: Gulliver’s Travels, The Wolfman) fall in love after meeting in the cutest way! And then they do silly things as part of their romance, like how Juliet waxes her plaster legs with duct tape before she goes on a date with Gnomeo. It’s funny cuz she doesn’t really have hair on her legs: she’s a plaster gnome. But she’s a girl!

Actually, the two tribes don’t really start getting along right away. In fact, the romance makes things worse, and results in a thing with more Elton John songs and a monster lawnmower action scene that’s like something Shakespeare would have written if he’d had enough help on his script like director Kelly Asbury (Shrek 2, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron) had on his. Asbury is one of nine credited screenwriters… not counting William Shakespeare himself. Imagine if the Bard had that much help! His script could have been much better. Or at least someone might have told him the ending was rubbish.

MPAA: rated G
BBFC: rated U (contains mild threat and innuendo)

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine