Film Review: Gnomeo and Juliet
● By Wendy Sipple
This computer animated film is based, very loosely, on William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy performed by garden gnomes. In this interpretation two rival sets of garden gnomes live in neighboring yards and are embroiled in a feud, as are their human owners. In this feud they play dirty tricks on each other and race lawn mowers until it escalates to breaking each other.
During the feud the son of the Queen and the daughter of the rival's King meet and fall in love. They, of course, struggle to keep their relationship secret amid the rising tensions of their families.
Gnomeo and Juliet is a misguided attempt at film making. They clearly made the film visually to market to young children, but based much of their material on subject matter that children are not interested in including jokes on relationships and puns based on Romeo and Juliet.
In addition, they have numerous bad music numbers spread evenly through out the movie, most of which are bad covers of mid-'80s soft pop music that again children of today find uninteresting. In fact my six and four-year-olds with fairly good attention spans for feature length movies walked away after about fifteen minutes without hesitation. Unfortunately it may be less interesting for adults.
There are zero surprises in the movie. From the opening scene you already knew how the movie was going to end, and it is not in tragedy like the material it is based on. Every bad gnome joke and pun is used and reused in the movie. Unfortunately the novelty of the gnomes dressed silly wears thin in the opening scene. I couldn’t help thinking had a team of creative people taken the gnome subject and invested some energy they could have had an entertaining movie. The concept is not that far removed from Pixar’s Toy Story which is wonderful movie. Why they felt the need to constrict their story to William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is puzzling to me.
The animation itself was not a problem in the film. Unlike some computer animated movies that are clearly lacking production values, Gnomeo and Juliet looks good. I actually thought the sound effects were done well, too, as they had that hollow statue sound every time they moved which I liked. It's sad that those production values were used on such a lazy story by the writing team -- and to imagine that this film had seven writers in the credits.
With the sheer volume of children’s entertainment options on video it is hard for me to recommend this film. While it is not offensive in regard to content, it’s shockingly void of anything worth your child’s or your time. If you're looking into getting your child interested in Shakespeare you will be better served taking them to the local stage productions.
FILMS LIKE GNOMEO AND JULIET – Hoodwinked, Veggie Tales Movie and Toy Story
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.