Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gnomeo & Juliet

How many times have you passed by the yard with the little ceramic Gnomes and thought, how tacky?  Or perhaps you have seen the commercials featuring the red hatted gnome extolling the virtues of cheap travel and said “oh, how cute!”  This is exactly the kind of sentimental platitude this movie is hoping you will buy into.  Judging from my tone I guess you have ascertained that I did not purchase.  Although the movie is based on a classic beloved story “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare, it does not live up to the legacy established by the great legend.  There is always room for redemption in most movies and I’ll say that it was worth the small rental fee and I would recommend it for families looking for something better than alternatives when young children are present and it was entertaining, just not riveting.

The story starts with a typical introduction of the two families and we see Gnomeo and his Mother Lady Blueberry (Maggie Smith) and Lord Redbrick (Michael Caine) fighting with each other over nothing either of them can remember why.  The two clans prank and cause hijinks for each other in an attempt to destroy the others carefully preened yard.  Soon we meet Gnomeo (James McAvoy) and Juliet (Emily Blunt) who meet by chance and instantly fall in love.  Soon their best friends discover their love for one another and advise them their love should not ever be expressed. 

The movie is definitely creative with making the world come to life with a limited set of props considering they are confined to a front and back yard.  The majority of the plot revolves around the “ultimate revenge” for the destruction of the beloved Blueberry lawnmower.  Of course there are other problems as the two sides fight each other and a rather insane ending that I won’t give away.  Of course a movie about lawn decorations come to life wouldn’t be complete without a pink flamingo (Featherstone voiced by Jim Cummings).  With an all star cast that has unmistakably unique voices this movie certainly has character but I think the suspension of belief required to watch lawn decorations was too much for me.  We have an emotional attachment to the toys that we grew up with but I have no fond memories of ever feeling affectionate towards our rock we kept the key inside of or the lantern holding jockey on the porch.  I think the facial expressions weren’t personable enough to show the emotions of the character either which made it difficult to connect emotionally to the gnomes.  I hope you will give it a try though because there are a lot of redeeming qualities to the movie.

The main idea behind this classic is that prejudice doesn’t just hurt the other person, it hurts us too.  Each side had sacrifices they made in order to hate the other gnomes, only to find in the end it was all unnecessary.  Fear can be a tremendous motivator when hatred is present.  Allow yourself the opportunity to ask questions so the unknown isn’t so scary any more.  Then we will be able to focus on what is common rather than uncommon.