Film Review: Gnomeo & Juliet (Disney, 2011)

| 16 February , 2011 | Reply

Keeva Stratton, Quip Creative

Directed by: Kelly Asbury
Voice cast: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Ashley Jensen, Michael Caine, Matt Lucas, Jim Cummings, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham, Ozzy Osbourne.

Appropriately set in Shakespeare\’s birthplace, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Gnomeo & Juliet begins by showing us the heated rivalry and constant bickering between two elderly neighbours, Mr. Capulet and Miss Montague. The warring neighbours have (of course) both taken their zeal for gardening to a whole new level, and their gardens are both filled to overflowing with brightly coloured, kitschy plaster garden gnomes and other similar accoutrements. ‘Romeo and Juliet is one of the greatest love stories of all time,\’ says Elton John, who not only provides the music for Gnomeo & Juliet, but also serves as executive producer. ‘And garden gnomes are huge in many countries throughout the world. We thought this would be a really good idea.\’

Of course the two neighbouring gardens (the Red Garden and the Blue Garden, after the two predominant colours) are populated with two feuding factions of garden gnomes that come to charming life once the humans are out of sight, to continue squabbling and warring over a host of prejudices and presumed slights.

The film features the voice talents of James McAvoy (Atonement) and Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) as Gnomeo and Juliet, who have as many obstacles to overcome as their namesakes as they are, at first, willing participants in the ongoing conflict, before they unwittingly discover each other, and love, one thrilling, adventurous evening. But with plastic pink flamingos and edge-of-your-seat lawnmower races bundled into the mix, will we discover that this young couple can find lasting happiness?

Gnomeo & Juliet is deftly directed by Kelly Asbury, whose directorial credits include Shrek 2 (2004). Also lending their voices to the film are Michael Caine as Juliet\’s father Lord Redbrick, Maggie Smith as Lady Bluebury, action star Jason Statham as Gnomeo\’s nemesis Tybalt, Ashley Jensen (How to Train Your Dragon) as Juliet\’s friend and confidante Nanette, Stephen Merchant (TV\’s The Office) as Juliet\’s suitor Paris, Matt Lucas (Alice in Wonderland) as Gnomeo\’s best mate Benny, and Jim Cummings (Shrek) as the scene-stealing plastic pink flamingo, Featherstone.

There are also several wonderful cameo turns for the adults to spot – Ozzy Osbourne portrays Tybalt\’s sidekick, Fawn, Dolly Parton turns up as the country gnome Dolly who starts the mower race, and Hulk Hogan lends his voice to the monstrously menacing lawn mower, the Terrafirminator.

And, of course, the film ends with an upbeat third act that veers rather sharply away from Shakespeare\’s intended tragic conclusion. (No room for Shakespearean purists here.) Well, for this incarnation at least, as the garden gnomes—despite all the terrific turmoil and intrigue—find themselves with a requisitely warm and fuzzy ending, leaving parents and children to happily exit the theatre, after sharing a funny and entertaining viewing experience.

Gnomeo & Juliet is good fun for both parents and children alike, and provides 84 minutes of zesty comedic humour, a variety of British accents, wonderfully vibrant animation, and a score bursting at the seams with classic Elton John songs that really help bring the film to life.

Gnomeo & Juliet opens in Australia on February 17, and is rated G (for Gnome).

Keeva

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