DIR/WRI: Kelly Asbury • Wri: Kelly Asbury, Mark Burton, Kevin Cecil, Emily Cook, Kathy Greenberg, Andy Riley • PRO: Baker Bloodworth, David Furnish • ED: Catherine Apple • DES: Kalina Ivanov • CAST: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Maggie Smith
It’s that time again, the time when The Bard’s words are wheeled out and given an updated ‘twist’ for modern audiences. In Gnomeo & Juliet the twist is that the parts in the greatest love story ever told are played by animated garden gnomes, and I’m not kidding. With James McEvoy voicing the aptly named Gnomeo and Emily Blunt taking on the role of Juliet, it can’t all be bad, can it!?
Well no, whilst rival clans of garden gnomes might ordinarily be the stuff of cheesy horror, our characters are effortlessly charming. Whilst the entire thing is vaguely ridiculous, it’s difficult not to get sucked into the childishness of it all and enjoy it for what it is, fun. McEvoy and Blunt bring a charming element to this bizarre love story and it’s hard not to root for these little guys despite the question marks looming in the dark recesses of your brain. There are some nods to the play specifically for the adults, as well as some gentle pastiche of more modern movies to ensure a few chuckles from those of us in double digits.
The animation itself is crisp and pristine and includes more bright colours than your retinas knew existed but, as always, the unnecessary addition of 3D does very little for the overall experience of the story, other than making the outing very slightly more expensive and the task of convincing a small child to keep 3D glasses on for the entirety is never a simple one. This animation would be more enjoyable in 2D as that now unavoidable extra dimension dulls what is intended to be excellent animation.
There is an over-heavy use of well-known voices which takes away a bit of the magic of the film. Rather than falling in love with an ensemble porcelain cast, the audience find themselves doing the obligatory, ‘Who IS that? Sounds familiar….Oh it’s Peggy Mitchell right?, It’s a sad fact that some movies simply can’t stand on their own merit and require an impressive ensemble cast in order to sell tickets at the box office (Valentine’s Day anyone?!). It is slightly disillusioning when this carries over into animation in order to lure parents in with their kids.
Overall, Gnomeo & Juliet is a bizarre but somewhat enjoyable exploration of a timeless classic. Right, now that that’s over with we must all bow our heads and pray that the next ten years doesn’t see the appearance of lawnmower races and rival garden gnomes in the Shakespeare Leaving Cert question.
IFCO website for details)
Gnomeo & Juliet is released on 11th February 2011