What’s In a Gnome?
By Mary McCarthy, Editor
If the poster text “A little adventure goes a lawn way” suggests to you that you’re in for a film full of mediocre writing and bad puns, you won’t be disappointed with lines like ‘let’s go kick some grass’ and more.
Don’t get me wrong. The movie is cute. Your kids will like it. Parents? Notsomuch.
After all, the story of Romeo and Juliet, besides being read by every high school English class in America, has also been retold in Leo DiCaprio versions, West Side Stories on stage and film and beyond. The fact that Romeo and Juliet actually die at the end of the play is something the animated feature would have to deal with, and I definitely wondered how.
This animated, unnecessarily 3D version of the classic Shakespeare tale opens with the duplex on Verona Drive where blue Montague gnomes live in “2B” and red Capulet gnomes live in Not 2B (symbolized by the universal red-circle-with–slash-through-it).
I hadn’t gotten the memo that the movie was Executive Produced by Elton John, so when I started noticing strains of Tiny Dancer, Your Song, and pretty much every other Elton John song ever made, I thought someone had just randomly chosen Elton John music as the soundtrack. Umyeahno– the whole film is basically an Elton John commercial, which is ok with me since I know all his songs by heart- in fact, it’s a saving grace. Don’t go breakin’ my heart, Elton.
Have to say? There are some very awkward attempts at adult humor. Where Tangled and Megamind did fine jobs of simultaneously entertaining adults and children with their scripts, unpaid interns must have been used to write this one. Inappropriate references to pointy hat size, a comment that Juliet is going to get ditched when Gnomeo finds out how much she weighs (really???), a gnome who declares his love for ‘going commando’ and gnomes stuck together who say ‘I wish I could quit you’ are not funny and all borderline creepy.
Important to note: my five and my seven year olds were with me and they loved the movie. Luckily the ‘ick’ factor is over their heads and they were just enjoying the story. I entertained myself by counting Elton John songs and Shakespeare references. (Besides the Hamlet reference in the addresses and other passing name nods to the Bard, there’s a shout out to MacBeth as well when Juliet yells to a dog “Out, Out!” and we hear the next door neighbor yell, “Damned Spot!”)
All in all? I’d say skip the overpriced 3D and buy the DVD unless it’s a rainy day and you HAVE to get the kids out of the house.
The movie is rated G and is pretty much fine for any aged kid. A statue of Shakespeare is incorporated to explain to us that the movie won’t end with the main characters dying. There is one scene where we think Romeo is dead but quickly learn he’s not and another where a gnome is smashed to bits against a stone wall. He is actually reincarnated at the end of the film for the obligatory dance number, so yeah, the movie actually includes gnome ZOMBIES, too. Gah.