I remember the ads for this when it was in theaters. I gave it a pass, but it looked like it could possibly be interesting, mostly due to who was listed as voice actors.
Gnomeo & Juliet is what you’d expect. It’s yet another depiction of the play, but different, but not really. You have Gnomes as the characters and some characters from the play are dropped or changed. There are a number of instances where they spoof the original play or vaguely follow the outline. Possible spoiler alert, but it shouldn’t be: The film has a bubbly happy ending. The movie is set up similarly to Toy Story in that you have red gnomes and blue gnomes, each in a neighboring yard. They have “owners” who you barley see, but when people do arrive they cease to “live” much like they do in Toy Story.
The film was made by Touchstone Pictures, which I believe is still owned by Disney, though the animation was done elsewhere. The animation isn’t bad. I’ve seen worse, or at least scene animation styles that I just didn’t care for. Part of the reason it looks crappy almost, is because they attempted to keep the gnomes some what realistic. They’re dirty and flawed and clearly aren’t meant to have a lot of emotion or animation to them. Unlike Toy Story, these characters are sort of designed to be a bit more wooden (or stone in this instance).
Which brings me to the heart of this movie. The movie is very self-referential and riddled with references to other movies and pretty much anything else. There are a number of references to Shakespeare and his plays. At one point Gnomeo has a chat with a statue of Shakespeare about the plays tragic ending. There are also spoofs of movies or altered quotes ranging from Brokeback Mountain, Rebel Without a Cause, Forrest Gump, Matrix, Saving Private Ryan, Muppets, and god knows what else. I don’t think even the makes of the film have a full list of all the references in the movie. That and there are also nods to some Disney things as well. One of the people has a laptop and instead of an Apple on the back it has a Banana. Basically a wide range of nods to various things. In some respects it may have gone to far since I don’t think there’s a single scene with out some sort of reference. On the other hand, it depends on how nerdy you are as to whether you will get half of them, so in that aspect may it balances out. Personally, I wasn’t annoyed by it. I actually kind of like when these movies do that and make fun of themselves for doing that.
The story isn’t great, but I actually enjoyed it. There were funny bits and it was played out well enough. It also strayed away from being overtly melodramatic like some animated children’s films can be. That and the music was handled well. Not Elton John’s best work, but the songs were at worst, decent and they weren’t over used ad nauseum.
The voice acting was great. For people unaware’s fo some of the Brits in the film it may not be as exciting, but I loved figuring out who played each character. Jame McAvoy and Emily Blunt are ok with the leads, but they are probably the dullest of the voice actors. Ashley Jensen was great as was Matt Lucas and Michael Caine and Maggie Smith were good as the parents, though neither was given much time, which at least Caine should’ve been given more. Jason Statham plays a crazy bad-ass Tybalt and Ozzy Osbourne plays a deer (Fawn). Patrick Stewart is the statue of Shakespeare and he does a great job with it. I also really liked Stephen Merchant’s gnome, Paris. While they did give him glasses tehy didn’t make him tall, which would’ve have been a joke I’d thrown in. Still, for the little time he gets, it’s very much Stephen Merchant, which I wanted more of. Jim Cummings however plays the flamingo and it’s a very odd character. Again it’s an instance where one of the side characters was better and he actually had more backstory than the other characters. The voice was a bit odd, but it was still great.
For watching at home after waking up from a late night, it seemed really good. Maybe under other circumstances I’d be less kind, but I knew what I was getting into. Not the greatest animated film, but there are far worse ones and there are plenty of them as well. Worth checking out though and it’s short.