The Story You Are About to See Has Been Told Before. A Lot.
You know what we all need? We all need to take some of the best tragedy stories of our time and turn them into kids movies with garden gnomes. I think we can all agree that this needs to happen. I had exactly zero percent interest in this movie when I first heard about it, the same amount when it came out on DVD, and the same amount when I saw it on Netflix streaming. I chose to watch it because I like to make fun of movies that are awful. Was this movie awful, or was I surprised by it? Let’s find out in my review of Gnomeo and Juliet, directed by Kelly Asbury, and starring the voice talents of James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham, Matt Lucas, Ozzy Osbourne, Stephen Merchant, Julie Walters, Dolly Parton, Hulk Hogan, and Patrick Stewart. I mean, come on! Look at that cast!
You know that story William Shakespeare wrote that was later turned into a Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes joint called Romeo & Juliet? This time they’re lawn gnomes. … …Okay it’s a little different. Two feuding neighbors, Mrs. Montague (Julie Walters) and Mr. Capulet (Richard Wilson), have adjoining gardens populated with garden gnomes that also hate each other. The Montague garden filled with blue gnomes, the Capulet garden with red gnomes. A red gnome named Tybalt (Jason Statham) and a blue gnome named Gnomeo (James McAvoy), son of the matriarch of the blue gnomes Lady Bluebury (Maggie Smith), challenge each other to a lawnmower race where Tybalt wins by cheating. In retaliation, Gnomeo and his friend Benny (Matt Lucas) decide to vandalize the red lawn. Simultaneously, Juliet (Emily Blunt), the daughter of Lord Redbrick (Michael Caine), decides she needs to escape the clutches of her over-protective father and retrieve a flower from a vacant neighboring yard. Here, Gnomeo and Juliet meet and fall in love almost instantly. Something tells me it won’t end well for these two star-crossed lovers. But, then again, it’s a kids movie version…
Strangely enough, this movie is not that bad. I know, I was as surprised as you! It’s a cute kid’s movie that’s well-animated and pretty and, of course, has a good story because it’s based on a story by William Shakespeare. I think the biggest problem with this movie is that it doesn’t really have an audience. People that love Romeo & Juliet won’t see this movie because it “ruins” a classic tragedy. People that aren’t familiar with Romeo & Juliet probably won’t be into the movie because it’s a kid’s movie. And kid’s might like the movie because they’re goofy gnomes, and their parents may want them to see it as an introduction to Romeo & Juliet, but it’s really not gonna learn ’em anything about Romeo & Juliet. Romeo & Juliet was a great play, but I think the huge tragedy at the end is what made it so famous. This being a kid’s movie, Gnomeo & Juliet had a happy ending. This movie probably would’ve been well-received if they hadn’t named it after Romeo & Juliet and taken the names from it. Plenty of story’s have done the whole “star-crossed lovers” thing so it wouldn’t have been so bad if it just had similarities to R&J (I am so sick of typing the whole name). But to take so heavily from R&J, but then to change the ending of a piece of classic literature, is not usually well received. Once we ignore the fact that it’s based on R&J, we can enjoy the movie a little more. The comedy in the movie relies heavily on puns – as you may gather from the title of the movie – and they’re hit and miss. “Let’s kick some grass” and “Who’s your gnomey?” (which I still don’t get) were dead on arrival, but when the frog says to the mushroom “You look like a fun guy (fungi)” made me laugh. Cheesiness is entirely acceptable in a kid’s movie. The commercial with Hulk Hogan’s voice over for the lawnmower called the Terrafirminator was pretty funny, mainly because it reminded me of the Power Thirst commercials from YouTube. I did find one part of this movie a little unbelievable. I mean, lawn gnomes coming to life I’m totally on board with, but an English Bulldog being vicious? You lost me.
The vocal cast of this movie is amazing. I would’ve expected most of these acclaimed British actors would have a problem with a movie fucking with the ending of a Shakespeare play, but they came in and did a pretty excellent job. James McAvoy and Emily Blunt did fine jobs here. Michael Caine and Maggie Smith are the two actors I especially would’ve thought would’ve refused to do this movie, and probably Patrick Stewart as well. But Stewart probably agreed because he got to play Shakespeare, albeit in statue form. I especially liked Ashley Jensen as Nanette the frog. The frog was halfway in between crazy and stupid and was probably the most consistently entertaining character. Sadly, I think the only voice acting that didn’t really shine was one of my favorite musicians: Ozzy Osbourne. Contrary to any impression of the man, he was very understandable. Being not an actor, most of his lines fell flat. But, again, he’s not an actor, and most people should consider it an accomplishment that you can actually understand what he’s saying.
As surprised as I am to write these words, here it goes … this movie’s kind of cute. It’s got a good story going for it with a couple of solid laughs, but don’t go in thinking it’ll be like Romeo & Juliet. Just think it’s a kid’s movie and you’ll probably think it’s cute. If you have them, your kids will probably enjoy it. The cast of the movie is amazing and they all perform admirably. Give it a shot, you may enjoy it. I give Gnomeo & Juliet “Not good, not bad, it’s FAIR Verona” out of “That was my joke!”
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