Thursday, March 03, 2011

Movie Log: Gnomeo & Juliet

The first movie the Hornswoggler family saw as a gestalt entity in a long time was the surprisingly non-stupid Gnomeo & Juliet, which is a decent animated movie that stays solidly aimed at kids but manages to entertain their parents without pandering to them. (As opposed to every Dreamworks animated movie ever made.)

As you probably already know from the ubiquitous commercials, it's a modern retelling of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, featuring a cast of garden gnomes that live in the back gardens of two semi-detached homes in Verona Court, Stratford-on-Avon. Where the more usual animated movies have  jokes about whoever has a show on Bravo or E! this week, Gnomeo substitutes random Shakespeare references -- Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Movers, As You Like It; mostly titles and bits of Hamlet, actually, since those are the most likely to get a spark of recognition -- and that works pretty well for those of us who are moderately Shakespeare-savvy. (Those completely innocent of Shakespeare won't get any of it, and serious Romeo & Juliet scholars will probably be annoyed from beginning to end at the liberties.)

James MacAvoy is Gnomeo, from the Blues, and Emily Blunt is Juliet, daughter of Lord Redbrick. And the plot follows Romeo & Juliet about as well as an Elton John-produced movie for kids about lawn furniture would. It's not a movie for the ages, but it's a decent family movie for this week or this year, and there will be a minor but fervent cult surrounding it in random dorm rooms around the English-speaking world in about twelve years.

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