Gnomeo & Juliet
Feuding families and star-crossed lovers. Shakespeare's iconic tragedy is once more up on the screen, but this time with, uh, gnomes. The bickering enemies are garden gnomes living in colorful backyard domains and doing battle over and under their common fence. The blue garden belongs to the Montagues of 2B and the red Capulets next door reside at … not 2B.
Leading the Montagues is Gnomeo, a hard-fired hero who's always up for a little grab-your-miniature-rake-and-rumble with his obnoxious red neighbors. Especially when it comes to that rough-and-tumble ornament Tybalt. He just makes Gnomeo's beard bristle.
Well, he would if a painted-on beard could bristle.
Meanwhile, on the red side of the fence, Juliet is doing her fair share of bristling, too. But her problem is with her father, Redbrick. He forces her to stay stationed on a tower pedestal even though she insists she is not as china cup-delicate as he thinks. And on that score, Gnomeo might well side with the red leader. When he first spots Juliet, he's definitely thinking china cup-beautiful. With the twinkle of a well-painted eye and the sparkle of a white, just-out-of-the-sprinklers grin, all those years of red/blue animosity evaporate. And—harp strum, please—ceramic love is in the air.
Of course, that doesn't mean all is well. Intercolor gnome romance is but the beginning of new troubles for the statuary sweethearts. In fact, Juliet's best friend says they have nothing more than a doomed love. But this version of the love story— bedecked as it is with plastic garden bunnies and pink flamingos—couldn't end in tragedy, could it?
For all of the garden-grinding attacks the Montagues and Capulets unleash upon each other, ultimately Gnomeo and Juliet's love helps one and all to see that they can forgive and forget. Even though revenge is a big part of the action on display, the film points out the foolishness of that choice.
As for the lovers themselves, they both put their very breakable lives on the line for each other. When certain doom appears to be befalling them, Juliet pleads with Gnomeo to save himself. He, in turn, refuses to leave her side. They commit to each other and marry on top of a purple mower—its color symbolizing the peace the two groups have forged.
The pair also reaches out to protect and help friends in need. And the friends reciprocate. Juliet's dad may be a little thickheaded, but he truly believes he has his daughter's best interests at heart.
A Dolly Parton-like gnome (voiced by the singer/actress) wears tight jeans and a cleavage-revealing flannel shirt. A male gnome is seen (a few times) wearing a skimpy, Borat-like swimsuit. After numerous stalled attempts, Gnomeo and Juliet eventually clink lips.
The gnomes go at each other with garden hoses and sticks in a number of clashes. Gnomes and other garden statuary are thumped and tumbled. A couple of gnomes race lawn mowers and smash them up. A revenge-seeking gnome fires up a 500 horsepower lawn tractor that literally rips down the fence, threatens dozens of garden residents and obliterates all the decorations—from fountains and lily ponds to statues and towers—in both yards.
It should be pointed out, however, that although there's quite a bit of smash-things-up rough-and-tumble here, we never see characters seriously hurt one another. (We certainly don't see any blood or gore!) A ceramic hat is broken off. A gnome hits a wall and shatters into bits. And another appears to be hit by a van. But none of these collisions and calamities are actually shown. (The shattered guy eventually appears again, glued together.)
Crude or Profane Language
A worked up Gnomeo spouts, "Let's go kick some grass!" After crossing two species of flowers, an inventor gnome labels his creation "Foxbutt." Another character uses "blasted," and two humans call each other "witch" and "idiot."
Drug and Alcohol Content
In the soundtrack, Elton John's song "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)" sports the lyric, "Want to get a belly full of beer."
Other Negative Elements
After being called illiterate, the not-so-bright Redbrick responds with, "I'm not illiterate, my parents were married." When Juliet dons a sock for stealthy movement, her friend Lynette notices a bump in the back and says, "Nice junk in the trunk." Lynette also coos favorably over the fact that Gnomeo and Juliet have a "doomed" love. An exploring gnome falls out of a dryer and into a human's bra on the floor.
As forced as the idea for this flick may sound—and the movie's trailers look—Gnomeo & Juliet has a lot of pottery-clinking playfulness going for it. In true Toy Story fashion, the gnomes can only come to life when people aren't watching. And that definitely adds some smiles when human passersby happen to glance in the direction of the suddenly frozen feuders.
The downside? A bit of toilet humor that could easily have been pruned.
But in a world where dogs and lawn mowers are the fiercest threats, the swashbuckling action never feels too intense or scary. And better yet, especially for the young 'uns who are clearly the film's targets, a "can't we all just get along" happy ending wins the day in a way British Lit scholars can only dream of when it comes to the Bard's original.
One thing's pretty much for sure: All this fast-paced backyard garden adventure wrapped up in catchy Elton John classics makes for a sunny and silly take on a well-known love story—that Shakespeare himself could never have imagined. Maybe it's too sunny and too silly for grown-ups. But, com'on, the name of the movie is Gnomeo & Juliet! Did you expect a faithful or even respectful rendition of that classical tale of woe?
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Voices of James McAvoy as Gnomeo; Emily Blunt as Juliet; Ashley Jensen as Nanette; Michael Caine as Lord Redbrick; Matt Lucas as Benny; Maggie Smith as Lady Bluebury; Jason Statham as Tybalt; Patrick Stewart as Bill Shakespeare; Dolly Parton as Dolly Gnome; Ozzy Osbourne as Fawn; Hulk Hogan as Terrafirminator V.O.
Kelly Asbury ( )
February 11, 2011
May 24, 2011