Thursday, February 24, 2011

Gnomeo & Juliet [ Movie Review ] ★★★

The Pitch

Imagine Romeo & Juliet meets Toy Story and you get the set up for Gnomeo & Juliet. Not exactly a good idea? Well this version of the well loved William Shakespeare classic is targeting the kids and ladies who have not out grown their love for all thing cutesy.

So if Gnomeo & Juliet doesn't really sound appealing, perhaps you are not in the targeted demographic.

But for folks who are not kids or cutesy loving folks, this movie is directed by Shrek 2 director Kelly Asbury, the last funny one in the franchise. So there might be hope. The vocal talent for this animation ranges from the likes of James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Hulk Hogan, Michael Caine, Jason Statham, Ozzy Osbourne and Patrick Stewart. Quite an interesting mix if you ask me.

It's also being produced by Elton John and his partner David Furnish. Therefore expect plenty of songs written by Elton John to flood this movie (It should be cheaper to get the song licenses).

The Plot

This movie is set in Verona street, where two households, the Montague and the Capulet are suited side by side. In their gardens, there are garden gnomes that comes alive when the humans are not around. To make it easy for the younger audience, The Montagues are represented by blue color and the Capulets are represented by red color. Like the families they represent, the red hatted gnomes and the blue hatted gnomes are at odd with each other.

One night, Gnomeo (James McAvoy) decided to sneak into the red hatted gnomes' garden to wreck havoc at the blue hatted gnomes' garden. Meanwhile, Juliet (Emily Blunt) discovered a rare orchid at an abandon garden and decided to sneak out to retrieve the orchid. The two iconic characters bump into each other and after a tussle for the rare orchid, they found that they are falling for each other. They also found out that the color of their respective hat.

Clue in the famous "balcony scene" where Gnomeo sneaked into Juliet's courtyard and overheard her vowing her love for him despite the rivalry between their two gardens. Gnomeo make his feeling known to Juliet and they decided to go on a date at the abandon garden the next morning.

But as their love blossom during their mini adventure at the abandon garden, the fateful conflict between Gnomeo, his best friend Benny and Tybalt that escalate matters was up next. After the tragic and fast paced confrontation between these three, Gnomeo was send into an unexpected form of "exile" and the relationship between the two gardens was at it's boiling point. Eventually a "war" broke out between the two families and Gnomeo mushroom dog tries to get to him to inform him that Juliet is in danger.

The Perspective

To critically review this is pointless. This computer generated animation is made for young kids and ladies who love all things cutesy. In that aspect, Gnomeo & Juliet had done a good job in entertaining the targeted audience.

But as one who is not their targeted audience, here are some of my views on this movie.

First of all, the animation was pretty good. Not Pixar good but the texture on the ceramic gnomes were quite realistic reproduced. The wear and tear, the dirt and paint have a very authentic feel to it. There's even ceramic clinging sound to remind us how fragile these gnomes were.The characters are well designed to max out the cutesy factor. It will make the targeted demographic wonder if there are any ceramic figurines or toys of Gnomeo & Juliet out there.

It's also not that good as compared to Shrek 1 and 2 when it comes to the pop culture references and the wordplay of Shakespeare's work. There are subtle references such as the street number houses of  the Montague and the Capulet are 2B and 2B with a slash over it.  There are also a pair of gnomes who are joined at the base who sigh the Brokeback Mountain famous dialogue "I wish I could quit you". Some were funny and some just tried too hard or didn't hit the mark at all.

Story wise, this is definitely not in Pixar league. The movie is so concerned with cutesy imaginary / moments or cramming it with jokes that it's a miracle that they managed to structure a somewhat decent re-imagined story of Romeo and Juliet.

Last but not least, since this movie is catered to the younger crowds, the writers had to adapt the bleak ending of the original classic into something more cheerful. Gnome ended the movie by saying that he preferred this ending. It's ironic as Romeo & Juliet is such an unforgettable story because of the way it ended and Gnomeo & Juliet would probably be forgotten in years to come (unless they made sequels out from it!). In the meantime, Gnomeo & Juliet is out to entertain and even if you are not the ones they are targeting, it won't be such an ordeal to accompany your love ones to catch this.

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