Gnomeo and Juliet (PG)

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Gnomeo and Juliet
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Reviewer radioguru
17/04/2012
Gnomeo and Juliet is a peculiar beast. The basic premise is that the characters are all garden ornaments in the gardens of Mrs Montague and Mr. Capulet - next door neighbours who hate one another. This hatred persists between the two gardens as well as the neighbours, with the red and blue gnomes living in a state of perpetual cold war. Gnomeo, the son of the Blue leader Lady Blueberry meets Juliet, the daughter of the Red leader Lord Redbrick, while they are both in disguise. They fall in love, and the stage is set for a reenactment of Romeo and Juliet with a cast of garden gnomes.

So far so good - the problem is that the film has absolutely no idea what it's trying to be. It can't decide whether it's a send-up of an over-rated classic, or a loving parody that aims to introduce younger viewers to Shakespeare - so it tries to be both, and falls flat. It can't decide whether it's a highbrow literary comedy full of clever Shakespeare references, or a lowbrow campy Elton John vehicle - again it tries to be both, and ends up simply feeling muddled.

It's not even clear what the gnomes themselves are like - there's a repeated joke about a ceramic fish which sinks instead of swimming, yet the gnomes themselves swim on a number of occasions without difficulty. Some of the gnomes appear permanently attached to their props (or to each other) yet the main characters appear perfectly capable of detaching themselves or others from various objects when it's convenient for the purposes of the plot. Breakage is initially presented as fatal - both Gnomeo and Juliet's missing parents are implied to have broken - but the only character who breaks in the course of the film is resurrected for the song-and-dance number at the end.

This general sense of inconsistency, combined with the sanitisation of the original plot for young eyes, means the impact of the central story ends up hugely reduced. You could do a lot worse as far as modern kids films go, but you could also do a lot
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