Movie Review: Gnomeo and Juliet - A Winner For Children and Parents Alike
From the minute the previews for Gnomeo and Juliet started appearing on TV, I wanted to see this movie. It looked so cute and funny, and having always been a fan of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, I thought it would be fun to see an animated version. The movie opened February 11th, 2011, and my sister-in-law, 8-year-old nephew and I went to see it two weeks later. Even after two weeks, the theatre was packed with adults and children.
Gnomeo Montague and Juliet Capulet come from opposite sides of the fence - literally. Gnomeo and his side are Blues, Juliet and her side are Reds. The Reds and the Blues have an ongoing feud, and pranks on either side of the fence are escalating. When Gnomeo and Juliet first meet, they don't realize that their gardens are rivals, and it's (almost) love at first sight for the pair. Even when they discover that they're from feuding gardens, they try to find ways to be together, despite Tybalt (Gnomeo's nemesis), Juliet's father, Lord Redbrick, and all the other gnomes who they know would keep them apart. Nanette, an over-the-top water-spouting frog, who is a hopeless romantic and Juliet's confidante, as well as Featherstone the flamingo, who Gnomeo and Juliet encounter along the way, do what they can to help the couple be together, even while the feud between the two sides escalates. I don't think it's giving anything away if I say that Gnomeo and Juliet has a happier ending than Romeo and Juliet - after all, it is a children's movie.
What we thought of Gnomeo and Juliet
This was my very first 3D movie, and after what I've heard of some 3D movies, I'm glad I was able to start small, and not necessarily with an action movie where it feels like cars are coming at you, blood is spurting in your direction, etc. I thought the animation was terrific, the colours were so vivid, and I really enjoyed seeing all those little three-dimensional gnomes running around.
The previews of this movie had me laughing, and the movie itself kept me, and everyone else laughing throughout. The adults in the theatre seemed to enjoy the movie as much as the kids did - I know my sister-in-law and I certainly enjoyed it. The kids were quiet through the movie except when they were laughing, which was often - I always figure that's the mark of a good kid's movie, when the kids are quiet because they're actually watching and enjoying the movie and aren't getting bored or restless. The characters, action, and music were all great, and at an hour and 25 minutes, it's just the perfect length - short and sweet, and keeps the kids (and adults!) entertained. I know my nephew will definitely want this movie when it's released on DVD.
Characters and the cast of voices
I was really impressed by the line-up of stars doing the voices for this movie. Here's a list of the characters and the actors that did each voice.
Gnomeo, the male lead - voice done by James McAvoy, best known from his roles in Atonement, The Last King of Scotland, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Becoming Jane.
Juliet, the female lead - voice done by Emily Blunt, best known for her roles in The Devil Wears Prada and The Young Victoria.
Lady Bluebury, Gnomeo's mother, leader of the Blues, and arch rival of Lord Redbrick - voice done by Maggie Smith, best known for her roles in the Harry Potter movies, Becoming Jane, and Gosford Park.
Lord Redbrick, Juliet's father, leader of the Reds, and nemesis of Lady Blubury - voice done by Michael Caine, best known for his roles in Inception, The Dark Knight, and Miss Congeniality.
Nanette the frog, Juliet's confidante - voice done by Ashley Jensen, best known for her role in TV's Ugly Betty.
Tybalt, Gnomeo's rival from the red garden, who likes to cause trouble - voice done by Jason Statham, best known for his roles in The Expendables and The Bank Job.
Benny, Gnomeo's well-meaning but slightly misguided best friend, who provides a great deal of the comedic relief through the movie - voice done by Matt Lucas, best known for his work in TV shows Come Fly With Me and Little Britain.
Paris, a bumbling geek gnome who Lord Redbrick tries to set up with Juliet - voice done by Stephen Merchant, best known for his collaborations with Ricky Gervais.
Fawn - a comically foul-mouthed ceramic deer on the red side - voice done by Ozzy Osbourne, best known for being the "Godfather of Heavy Metal", as well as his starring role in his own reality show The Osbournes.
Featherstone, a plastic garden flamingo who befriends Gnomeo and Juliet when they find him abandoned in a garden shed - voice done by Jim Cummings, who has done extensive voice and singing work in animated movies and television shows like Winnie the Pooh, Aladdin, and The Lion King.
Other famous cameo voice appearances include Dolly Parton, as Dolly Gnome, and Hulk Hogan as the voice in the Terrafirminator lawn mower ad.
The music of Gnomeo and Juliet
The music for the Gnomeo and Juliet soundtrack was written by Elton John. The selection of songs was wonderful, and worked really well within the movie. The 14-song soundtrack features:
- Hello Hello - Elton John
- Crocodile Rock - Elton John
- Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting) - Elton John
- Don't Go Breaking My Heart - Elton John
- Love Builds a Garden - Elton John
- Your Song - Elton John
- Rocket Man (I Think it's Going to be a Long, Long Time) - Elton John
- Tiny Dancer - Elton John
- Bennie and the Jets - Elton John
- Gnomeo and Juliet - James Newton Howard
- Dandelions - James Newton Howard
- Bennie and the Bunnies - James Newton Howard
- Terrafirminator - James Newton Howard
- The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room - Thurl Ravenscroft
Overall, I think this is a great movie for the whole family - it's one of my favorite new animated movies. I can't help but think that this movie is going to inspire some creative gnome displays in gardens and on lawns this spring and summer. I'm half tempted to get a couple of them myself and put them on my balcony!
Be sure to check out the official Gnomeo and Juliet website for more information, as well as videos, pictures, activities, games and downloads. You can even make your own virtual red or blue gnome.
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