Ignore the title. Whatever you do, ignore that title. And ignore the idea that the movie itself came from the title’s pun, because if it did, even I can’t defend it.
Instead, imagine the opening scene. An animated gnome in an animated setting tells us that we are going to see a story about “two hapless lovers, separated by a great dispute”, that “has been told before … a lot”, and “now we are going to tell it again , but different, ”and“ it’s all pretty entertaining. ”This gnome then falls down a hatch, having almost avoided attempts at a large hook, crawling from the wings, to get him off the stage. Confused? You probably should be. Wait until let him see …
Scene two: two animated gardens, full of animated gnomes. The human owners of the gardens leave their homes for the day and the gnomes come to life, just like in Toy Story. (Although I’m sure, for legal reasons, I don’t Quite like in Toy Story.) “Laaaaaaa, la, la, la, la, laaaaa …” Is that 1973 Sir Elton John hitting Crocodile Rock in the background? Interestingly, it is. A little weird, but keep going.
The gnomes start their day. I’ve never seen so many gnomes, in any context, ever. Five gnomes try to play soccer with a ball stuck to a gnome’s butt. A gnome wears a mankini. A gnome has a distinctive Birmingham accent hoarse with age and drug use. Probably not. Somehow, yes. Ozzy Osborne is in this movie! What’s going on?
If I still haven’t convinced you to watch Gnomeo & Juliet, then realistically I never will. Nothing makes sense and is joyous. From those two opening sequences emerges a loose plot of Romeo and Juliet, with a star-crossed lover emerging from each of the two gardens (voiced by Emily Blunt and James McAvoy), whose gnome populations are fiercely xenophobic towards others. gnomes, despite looking almost exactly the same as them (except with different colored hats).
Critics weren’t thrilled with Gnomeo & Juliet when it first released. Time Out thought his “lack of inspiration” was a “tragedy”; The New York Times called it “a bewildered bag of jokes populated with characters that have little emotional resonance.” AV Club even accused him of “a particular kind of unpleasant and blind self-satisfaction.” I think that’s a bit harsh for what is surely one of the most innocuous movies ever made. Don’t even tell me about the Austin Chronicle’s opinion that “novelty alone is not a good idea, and in the case of Gnomeo & Juliet, it is quite disturbing, fetish even.” Oh!
One thing that many critics acknowledged, largely approvingly, was the film’s intrinsic strangeness. Empire praised his “almost constant sense of crazy invention”; the Daily Telegraph admitted that, at least, Gnomeo & Juliet was “certainly novel.”
I love madness for its own sake, but I think if you look hard enough, there is also a method behind it. All the chaos of the film is channeled into the affective subversion of monotonous English life. Petrified Gnomes typically take on agile and dynamic action. The sacrosanct Shakespeare is slightly mocked and his plots rewritten. Even the very rhythm of the British garden, mellow, stagnant, is madly accelerated, through fierce editing and bombastic pieces. The most extreme of the latter occurs at the climax of the film, when a gigantic American lawnmower goes haywire in both gardens, demolishing them. Is this a critique of blatant American influence on quiet European life? Or is it an exaggerated ending designed to attract children’s attention towards the end of the movie? I mean it when I say: maybe both?
The Hollywood Reporter called the film “a collection of heavy scraps of salvaged material, offering little that is fresh or fully dimensional.” I agree with it mixing, reusing past themes, humor and aesthetic choices. But I think the collage effect works as an idiosyncratic gift, DIY building an image of eccentric Englishman and suburban camp.
If your English is in your twenties old-fashioned, then, well, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. With a cast of voices from acting legends developed in the middle of the last century (Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Richard Wilson, Patrick Stewart) and the pulsating brilliance of Sir Elton from the early ’70s shining on the soundtrack, the film is feels like a ridiculous tribute. into a fading cultural world, spawned 50 years ago, but clinging to relevance with crazy vibrancy in the 2010s. Gnomeo & Juliet give us the latest unexpected act from Swinging Britain. And wow, it has a lot of gnomes.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism