Gnomeo and Juliet: Cheesy but Effective

This animated film by Rocket Pictures released by Touchstone entertainment features the powerhouse voice cast of James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Jason Statham, and Patrick Stewart in a story of two opposing clans of garden gnomes belonging to two neighbors, Montague and Capulet who can’s stand each other. These two clans, identified by color of their pointy hats (red and blue) have been feuding for the longest time for an undisclosed reason. Their interactions have always been at a minimum, for the most part heckling and competing in  lawnmower races between Gnomeo (McAvoy), and Tybalt (Statham), a red gnome who is is mean and arrogant. When Tybalt cheats Gnomeo out of a victory in the races, the blues try to get back at them by sneaking into the red garden to pull a prank on the cheat. But even as their plan fails, the film’s hero meets Juliet, who is herself sneaking into an abandoned garden to pick a flower, and the two fall in love after a lengthy duet.

The plot follows the pattern of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but with the intensity watered down to appeal to its target market– children. The film, has to its credit, excellent animation and a well paced story. I wasn’t expecting to like it but I actually did. The movie was undeniably cheesy while the two lead characters were courting and getting to know each other on clandestine dates, but it was also infinitely entertaining, never boring audiences with lengthy monologues, and instead keeping a steady flow of action — sandwiching romantic sequences with scenes of attacks and counterattacks (and counter counterattacks) and it was really funny because these little gnomes looked so adorable and yet, they were plotting invasions of the opposing garden like they were trained soldiers. The contradictions served the movie really well.

There were also subplots for the supporting characters who did much to liven up the movie (Featherstone, Nanette). They were well rewarded for their work when they too got closure in the ending (a thing that most movies forget) so everybody leaves the cinemas happy. As for the script, there were occasional references to the original literature and there were verbal jabs between the reds and the blues, but they basically kept it clean. I liked that Emily Blunt, James McAvoy (after seeing him on X-men and this one, I think I’m already a bit in love with him) and Jason Statham were able to let loose their genuine British accent and they were perfect matches to their characters. Statham in animation is as tough as he is his live action roles.

Credit should also be given to the musical scorer and director of this film. He chose the best songs to accentuate each situation and the original songs used for the movie weren’t too shabby. I would also like to give credit to the fight coordinators if there were any because the stunts (while made in reference to successful action flicks) were truly well executed. The animators, as I have already said, did a great job with the graphics but ultimately, it would all boil to excellent direction for having the vision and the structure to make everything gel together. For a relatively new artist studio, Gnomeo and Juliet could give Dreamworks (Pixar is still miles ahead) a run for its money.