Gnomeo & Juliet – Movie Review

23 06 2011

So you are thinking to yourself, I’ve watched the Shrek films with my kids so many times, even I can memorise chunks of the dialogue. Is there ANYTHING else I can watch with my kids?!

Gnomeo & Juliet is not the best answer, but if you are truly desperate, I can give it a pass. This animated film is something like Toy Story, but we have gnomes and other gardens objects coming to life instead of toys. These characters have feelings and speech capabilities, but are forced to freeze whenever humans look at them.

The two central gnomes here are Gnomeo and Juliet, voiced by James Mcavoy and Emily Blunt respectively. These two characters are nothing special, but nonetheless very likable and you will be rooting for them to get together. The gag of their first encounter is funny, although you’ve seen this joke thousands of times before. Jason Statham voices one of the evil gnomes, and I never thought I would ever see (or hear) him in a kids film.

Although the premise is very similar to Toy Story, this film actually feels a lot like Shrek. There are tons of pop culture references scattered everywhere, most of them probably flying over the kids’ heads. Most of the jokes are very bombastic and slapsticky, so there’s no escaping that Shrek effect. However, the film manages to get serious when it needs to, and there is a genuine sense of danger during the action scenes.

The most irritating character here (and probably of recent animation memory) is the flamingo. He’s that character who appears somewhere in the middle of the film with a weird accent and whose only purpose is to drag the movie out for another ten minutes. There is a flashback sequence involving this flamingo which is mildly effective, but patterns itself too much after those you see in the Pixar films. There is also a frog that is downright creepy.

I would skew the suitable age group of this film even lower than Shrek, but that doesn’t mean older folks will be totally bored. If it’s any comfort, the film contains many songs by Elton John, one of which is a duet with Lady Gaga. Gnomeo & Juliet is easily forgettable, but at least it held my interest while it was still running. 

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