Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Gnomeo and Juliet: A Movie Review

Who could forget the story of Romeo and Juliet? Anyone who had this story overanalyzed in their high school literature class will remember the tragic events leading to the deaths of both young lovers. Here we have a retelling with a happy ending. The other major difference is that the characters are played by garden gnomes.

With very little prologue, the audience is taken to the front yards of the Capulets and Montagues. The owners of the houses hurl insults at each other as they leave for work. Once they are gone, the garden gnomes come to life, revealing the materialistic and antagonistic tendencies they have inherited from their owners. The Blues (Montague) and the Reds (Capulet) are obsessed with outdoing the other’s gardens.

While on a mission to obtain a beautiful flower from the top of a greenhouse for her family’s garden, Juliet Capulet meets with Gnomeo Montague. He is on a revenge mission and they are both in disguise. It is love at first sight, and they play-fight over the flower until their disguises are removed and they discover they each come from opposing families.

With the help of a frog gnome, who plays the nanny to Juliet, and a pink flamingo, who serves as a sort of chaperone during their trysts, Gnomeo and Juliet meet several times. In the meantime, the war between their families continues. Ben Montague loses his tall blue hat in a fight with Tybalt Capulet. Gnomeo attempts revenge through a mower race with Tybalt. Tybalt loses, crashing his mower into a fence and getting smashed. An angry crowd chases Gnomeo into the street.

It appears that Gnomeo has gotten crushed in the street, but actually what they see is a broken teacup that has fallen out of a truck. With Gnomeo missing and taken for dead, the war between the houses escalates, with the purchase of an upscale tractor mower. Juliet’s father glues her to a pedestal at the top of a fountain so she can stay “safe” at home.

I love the part where Gnomeo converses with a statue of William Shakespeare, asking him how his story ends. Shakespeare found it both suitable and satisfactory that they both die in the end. Gnomeo is determined on a better fate. He returns just in time and, although both gardens are ruined by the upscale tractor mower that has gone into “destruction” mode, the two families decide to end their feud and forgive one another.

The movie ends with a wedding. The flamingo finds his long-lost love. Tybalt even gets glued together and is seen dancing at the wedding.

A few parts that parents may find objectionable include a garden gnome in a revealing bathing suit that shows his entire backside, a joke about a squirrel losing his “nuts”, and a flashback scene in which the flamingo is showing how he lost his true love due to the separation of the couple who owned their house. In my opinion these are trivial issues that don’t take away from the overall charm of the movie. Parents may want to discuss the fact that Gnomeo and Juliet sneak out to court without the permission of their parents.

The message of the movie is a Christian one of love and forgiveness. Courtship and matrimony are also shown in a positive light.


Amanda Borenstadt said...

Thanks for reviewing this one. My little girls and I were interesting in seeing it.
I'm a sucker for garden gnomes. :)

Rob said...

I didn't think children needed to be introduced to the term "junk in the trunk" (Juliet's derriere) or the frog asking Juliet if Gnomeo had a "large and pointy ... hat". I understand the movie tried to work on two levels, but the lines were unnecessary.

My two Canadian cents.