I viewed this film on the recommendation of all of my friends that have children. They all loved it and I really wanted to see why. I still have no clue. The wife to be wanted to see this one also so at least I would have a partner on this screening. I love animation…so I was along for the ride, I just hope that this was not another great for kids and mediocre for adults type of affairs. While I was not expecting Toy Story types of depths and engagement since it was Disney I do have expectations. Talking gnomes. A parody of Romeo and Juilet. It’s a kid’s wet dream and a parent’s worst nightmare. Let me tell you something, the idea sounds horrible on paper.
The film takes place in the present day, where Montague and Capulet no longer are two warring families, but simply two next-door neighbors who just don’t get along. This animosity is also found in their adjacent gardens, where the gnomes, much like the toys in Toy Story, come to life when no one’s watching. The blue gnomes, led by Lady Blueberry (Maggie Smith), belong to Mrs. Montague, while Lord Redbrick (Michael Caine) and his red acolytes belong to Mr. Capulet. Their mission is to find new ways to make the enemy garden look bad, and it all goes well – so to speak – until a full-scale war erupts, and star-crossed lovers Gnomeo (James McAvoy) and Juliet (Emily Blunt) find themselves caught in the middle.
This take on Shakespeare’s tragedy would probably be better suited for a Dreamworks treatment, as they make no mystery of having older audiences in mind. Disney, on the other hand, is torn between pandering to younger viewers and giving Bard aficionados the fun yet intelligent picture they crave and deserve. Sure, there are in-jokes galore (the house numbers 2B and Not 2B are the standout), but the third act is particularly underwhelming, with too much screen-time for the mandatory talking animal sidekicks and a climax that has
inevitably been altered – presumably – to keep the kids from crying. I may just be OK with this but I’m still not sure.
When it works, however, Gnomeo & Juliet is an absolute joy: the opening send-up of the play’s prologue set the tone quite nicely, Elton John’s contribution to the soundtrack is faultless, and the voice cast is a hoot. Aside from the filmmakers having the nerve of putting Jason Statham and Ozzy Osbourne in the same film as Smith and Caine (surely a once in a lifetime kind of thing), the idea of incorporating Shakespeare himself as a character (voiced by Patrick Stewart) and having him criticize the film’s plot detours is the self-mocking intelligence that I wanted.
The film is colorful, wonderfully detailed, and free of any perceptible warts. Of note is the striking color palette that’s evident in every scene, even in the fairly long dark stretch where Gnomeo ends up meeting Juliet. The picture is awash in reds and blues, both handsomely rendered and perfectly displayed. Color balance is
exceptional; there’s no bleed-over, and color gradations are perfect. Green foliage, yellow flowers, tan bricks, and even gray concrete sidewalks and roadways are all balanced, crisp, and eye-catching. Fine detail is just as good. Viewers will be amazed at the level of absolute digital perfection visible in every scene, a tribute both to the power of Blu-ray and the intricacies of the digital artwork that make up every character and environment.
- Elton Builds a Garden: A detailed look at Musician Elton John’s and his studio’s involvement in the making of the movie.
- Alternate Endings With Filmmaker Introductions: All’s Well That Ends Well and Alternate Dance Routine. I really did not get it.
- Deleted and Alternate Scenes With Filmmaker Introductions: All shown in ainmatics there was so much material that was so hard to watch.
- Frog Talk with Ashley Jensen: A look at the voice performance of Actress Ashley Jensen, who plays the frog.
- The Fawn of Darkness: Casting Ozzy Osbourne against type for the part of the lawn deer character “Fawn.” This was fun and Ozzy looks better than he has in years.
Over all it was just what I had expected and feared, great for children, horrible for adults without children. There were quite a few moments that worked and I really enjoyed but overall it was just not for me. The wife to be complained the whole time saying stating that it was confusing (she was comparing it to the Shakespeare).
Gnomeo & Juliet (Two-Disc Blu-ray / DVD Combo) is available at DVD retailers everywhere.
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Overall: 2 lawn flamingos out of five
We received a copy of this movie for our DVD review. All opinions are our own