It's a Movie About Lawnmowers and Living Yard Pottery

Movie Review: Gnomeo and Juliet (2011)
Summary: Gnomeo (voice of McAvoy) and Juliet (voice of Blunt) have as many obstacles to overcome as their quasi namesakes when they are caught up in a feud between neighbors.
Spoilers: none

Gnomeo and Juliet has only one thing going for it, and that is its creative and funny knock-off title. Beyond that, it is a fall-flat failure of an animated work with not much charm, and a story with scarcely an ounce of original thought. The cast is as forgettable as a face in a crowd.

These garden gnomes are made of pottery. They die by being shattering into pieces. They are distinguished by type and color, and whether or not they have shiny and pointy hats. They freeze in posture anytime their human owners walk outside. And like traditionally known gnomes, they are linguistically challenged, and though small, have facial expressions and stocky body-types that suggest they are about to take mighty big shits.

As with people, these pieces of yard pottery – most of them gnomes – are highly territorial, fighting with those of different colors who snoop onto their turf. That’s right; Gnomeo and Juliet takes the opportunity to take a stab at the evils of hating someone of another color.

When “Gnomeo” (James McAvoy, voice) traipses into forbidden (red) territory, he meets “Juliet” (Emily Blunt, voice), a red. As the two standoffishly fall for each other, they soon find themselves in the middle of the ongoing war between the red-hats and blue-hats.

Feeling the heat of disapproval from her overprotective father, “Lord Redbrick” (Michael Caine, voice), who wants to glue his daughter onto a high pedestal to prevent her from being shattered like her mother, Juliet and Gnomeo plan to carry out their lives elsewhere. This is when they run into a Spanish-accented, pink, yard flamingo named “Featherstone” (Jim Cummings, voice), and a statue of William Shakespeare (Patrick Stewart, voice) with an expectedly negative outlook on life and love.

With the help of a Terrafirminator super-powered lawnmower (Hulk Hogan, voice) with many other determined, pointed-hat fighters and their helpers – among them is “Tybalt” (Jason Statham, voice) and a reindeer, “Fawn” (Ozzy Osbourne, voice) – the color war bitterly rages on.

This insipid gnome movie gives us nothing. It makes us think about nothing. And in what we get from water-squirting frogs and gardens tended to by non-detail-oriented gnomes, we ask: What, exactly, is this supposed to offer us? Beyond cute animation, I really am not sure.

This almost appears to be of the backwoods persuasion, not considering the thick British accents. Some King of the Hill groupies, and perhaps the English, may really dig it, but probably not the rest of us (no offense to our English cousins). And I don’t call this wrongly conceived animated excursion lifeless for nothing. It really is.

The hastening rounds of scene-changing pseudo-excitement will probably not even entertain kids as well as predicted. The plot is so uninteresting that it’s difficult to remember what you were following only moments before.

“Let’s go kick some grass.” No reason to see it other than in hopes of getting more little puns as offered in the title. Gnomeo instead of Romeo? Is that cool little play on words enough cause to have a movie? I say not, especially not in a story with predictable slapstick, which is every bit as predictable as the story’s conclusion.

There is simply no reason for this film to exist!

Clinking and clanking as they walk and interact, great care has been taken with the animation that does jive with a partially sought-after sense of realism. The faces of the owners are never seen so that the whole show is about the garden and shed-dwelling objects that try to have as distinct of personalities as a kindergarten class.

But this appears to be all for naught. The stone rabbits and mushrooms that take the place of dogs and jump around do nothing to win over audiences anymore than anyone else does.


Grade: D+ (1 ½ stars)
Rated: G
Director: Kelly Asbury
Starring: James McAvoy “Gnomeo” (voice), Emily Blunt “Juliet” (voice), Ashley Jensen “Nanette” (voice), Michael Caine “Lord Redbrick” (voice), Matt Lucas “Benny” (voice), Jim Cummings “Featherstone” (voice), Maggie Smith “Lady Bluebury” (voice), Jason Statham “Tybalt,” (voice), Ozzy Osbourne “Fawn” (voice), Stephen Merchant “Paris” (voice), Patrick Stewart “Bill Shakespeare” (voice), Julie Walters “Miss Montague” (voice), Hulk Hogan “Terrafirminator V.O.” (voice)
Mr. Capulet (voice)
Genre: Animation / Adventure / Comedy / Family / Fantasy / Romance