The beloved bard’s tales, forever ripe for reinvention, gets the animated treatment in this kid-friendly reimagining of Shakespeare’s popular play. We lay our scene in fair Verona, a pleasant English street, where two households both alike in dignity hate each other’s guts. Ms. Montague (Julie Walters) and Mr. Capulet (Richard Wilson) are warring neighbors who have a penchant for lawn ornaments. Their ceramic gnomes and plastic animals spring to life and carry on the feud when their owners are not looking, marking one of the more creative use of garden decorations.
Montague’s blue gnomes are ruled by the matron Lady Bluebury (Maggie Smith), whose nimble son Gnomeo (James McAvoy) engages in dangerous lawnmower races with Tybalt (Jason Statham) of Capulet’s red gnomes. They are led by Lord Redbrick (Michael Caine), who keeps close watch over his daughter Juliet (Emily Blunt). The spirited heroine resents being literally put on a pedestal, which her father does in order to keep her from being smashed; it’s a dangerous life. One night, she sneaks out in disguise and bumps into a camouflaged Gnomeo. It’s love at first sight for the two, until they realize they have just cavorted with the enemy.
The films hews close to its source material but adds a few flourishes. Featherstone (Jim Cummings) is a lonely plastic flamingo, separated from his love when his owners divorced and divvied up the lawn ornaments. He warns the young couple that others’ hate can destroy their love. Gnomeo’s exile following Tybalt’s violent death by lawn mower crash leads him to a giant statue of Shakespeare (Patrick Stewart) in the park. He learns that similar stories have ended in tragedy, which he considers a load of rubbish.
The animation does not jump out – although the film was screened in 3D, but it is bright and cheerful. The gnomes surprisingly retain their gnomish figures. Juliet is a good deal frumpier than her animated counterparts. Meanwhile, Gnomeo is handsomely rotund and sporting a thin silver beard, as is the fashion. And though the movie is self-referential (I liked the Tempest Teapot truck), it manages to avoid tripping over too many pop culture references. Elton John, who supervised the music, provides the soundtrack, and we won’t count him as contemporary. The best part is the voice cast. It is a parade of Britishness, with a sparky Dolly Parton and growling Hulk Hogan thrown in.
“Crocodile Rock” performed by Nelly Furtado, featuring dancing gnomes:
“Hello Hello” performed by Elton John and Lady Gaga:
Prod: Baker Bloodworth, David Furnish, Steve Hamilton Shaw
Dir: Kelly Asbury
Writer: John R. Smith, Rob Sprackling
Cast: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham, Patrick Stewart, Ashley Jensen, Matt Lucas, Stephen Merchant, Ozzy Osbourne, Jim Cummings, Hulk Hogan, Julie Walters, Richard Wilson, Dolly Parton
Time: 84 min
Country: United Kingdom