31 August 2011

Movies: Gnomeo & Juliet

Gnomeo & Juliet (2011) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0377981/

Animation

Animated retelling of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" acted out by garden gnomes and assorted other garden statuary.
That's probably my quickest and most accurate summary of a story.

The film is cute. The animation is good, the close-up texturing of the gnomes makes them really look like garden pottery gnomes. The filler sound effects are great too, little clinks and stuff when the gnomes contact things. The voice acting was good too, some recognizable, others not, but all seemed fitting to the characters.

As for the music, I was thinking "Man, the soundtrack is very Elton John heavy." Then I saw during the end-credits that Elton John was an executive producer on the project. So yeah, that explains it.  Thankfully there wasn't a bunch of recent pop-culture references that will make the film dated in years to come. For some reason I prefer the sound tracks that are made for the animated films vs. those that use popular music shoehorned in to the film. For me, if it feels forced it detracts.

The film is definitely targeted for children, and most likely should be a hit with the kids. The gnomes are cute, the colors are bright, it's paced well so as to not lull them off to sleep.  There's a couple of scenes that might be scary or possibly emotionally crushing to the young'uns too. But if they ride it out long enough they should be okay about it. There was one really obvious 'adult themed double entendre joke' that may or may not go over a young'uns head involving squirrels. Aside from that, for the big kids (adults) there's a couple references to other Shakespeare works. If you missed 'em, check out IMDB's Trivia page for the film. I caught some of the more obvious ones, missed out on some others.

There's a song-and-dance number at the end of the film, much like what you get from Shrek films. Nothing at all to do with the story, just there for there's sake.

Overall is it a great film? Great ideas, but on the whole an average execution despite very good technical production. We're not talking Shakespeare here. Oh wait. Actually the film is very much aware of itself and that's obvious from the opening monologue. I think the feeling of mediocrity for adult viewers comes from forgetting this film is targeted for the child audience. It gives them a good introduction to a well-known Shakespearean play.  Like him or hate him, there is a reason why Shakespeare's works have endured for 500 years.

I still liked it. It's entertaining enough. Not bad for a non-Pixar film, and avoided most of the pitfalls other animated films tend to fall in to if their story is lacking. Good flick for the kids and garden gnome enthusiasts.

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