As you could guess from the title, GNOMEO AND JULIET is the animated gnome-version of William Shakespeare’s famed Romeo and Juliet. Much like the star crossed lovers penned ages ago; GNOMEO AND JULIET is a tragedy, but not for reasons you might think. With an enormous cast of famous voice talent, SHREK 2 director Kelly Asbury, a recognizable story and the musical talent of Elton John, this flick should be a hit. Tragically, it is a horrible mess of a film with a rotten script and only a handful of funny or cute moments.
When the movie started I thought this is going to be a clever, witty and sharp masterpiece. With smart Shakespeare references (making me feel intelligent for spotting them) and an up-tempo score that had a very Elton John vibe I was nodding my head in anticipation for what was to come next. What followed the opening sequence was nothing more than an animated tribute to Elton John’s music with irrelevant musical montages of gnomes racing lawn mowers, falling in love, singing to one another and fighting. No matter which male gnome might be singing, the speaking voice changed to Elton John’s singing voice causing a disconnect with characters I already didn’t care about. I understand that Elton John is an icon, a legend, a name in Hollywood and around the world but he should have left the film making process to the professionals. Being Executive Producer might have clouded his judgment but his star power drew in more famous names than I care to list.
Neighbors, Miss Montague and Mr. Capulet live on Verona Drive and are feuding primarily because of the dispute going on in their respective yards between the gnomes. Granted, the humans have no clue as the gnomes ‘freeze’ whenever the humans are around but Montague blames Capulet for her mower being broken and Capulet blames Montague for vandalizing his wishing well. When ‘blue’ and only son to Lady Bluebury, Gnomeo (voiced by the oh-so-dreamy James McAvoy), decides to do a sneak attack on the ‘reds’ he finds himself head over heels in love with Juliet (Emily Blunt), only daughter to Lord Redbrick (Michael Cain). Both Gnomeo and Juliet cannot believe their unfortunate fate of falling for the enemy but make plans to see each other again in an abandoned neighboring garden.
From there high jinks and randomness ensue. We meet a hilarious and flamboyant plastic pink flamingo named Featherstone, hear the Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osborne, voice Fawn a tender and dimwitted deer lawn ornament and see an army of tiny cement bunnies ready to attack and defend their ‘blue’ garden once their prized Wisteria plant is destroyed by the reds. Gnomeo get’s love advice from a Bill Shakespeare statue (Patrick Stewart) but all of these moments cannot salvage this film.
Lately there have been some tremendous animated features that appeal to children and grown-ups alike. GNOMEO AND JULIET is not one of those films. I find it hard to imagine a child enjoying a storyline that is over their head or an adult who wasn’t bored to tears watching this forced movie.
Video (1.85:1): Bright bold animation, sharp colors.
Audio (7.1 DTS HD Master Audio): You can hear every Elton John inspired note loud and clear.
Elton Builds a Garden (5:47): A look into Elton John’s involvement in GNOMEO AND JULIET. We hear a lot of praise for the movie, script, and music collaborations. We learn how Elton John fought tooth and nail for this movie, a true labor of love.
Alternate Endings With Filmmaker Introductions (4:05): Director Kelly Asbury introduces two alternate endings to GNOMEO AND JULIET. I think I would have preferred the first alternate ending to the one selected for the film but think the filmmakers made the right decision with the Crocodile Rock dance sequence.
Deleted and Alternate Scenes with Filmmaker Introductions (42:25): Once again, director Kelly Asbury introduces deleted and alternate scenes. Think out of these choices, the filmmakers kept the correct ones in the film.
Frog Talk with Ashley Jensen (1:46): An interview with Ashley Jensen, voice to frog and Juliet’s best friend, Nanette.
Fawn of Darkness (1:29): Ozzy Osborn discusses his take on Fawn, the concrete lawn deer and how this gig was easier than being in the studio for 12 hours recording music.
Crocodile Rock Music Video (1:32): Sung by Nelly Furtado featuring Elton John, we see a mash up of animated moments and Furtado and John in the studio singing.