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DVD Review: ‘Gnomeo and Juliet’

★★★☆☆

Apparently, up to 67% of people suffer from an “irrational” fear of gnomes. Another 30% of people are afraid of gnomes for “rational” reasons, and the other 3% are gnomes that fear gnomes. At first, Gnomeo & Juliet (2011) may do very little to calm the gnomophobiacs, but by embracing this film’s playful depiction of the gnome, underpinned by its take on the greatest tragic love story ever written, even the worst gnomophobic should be won over.

Gnomeo & Juliet is described as a ‘tale of love, honour and strength amongst adversity’ and is imbued with the morals and light-hearted humour necessary to ensure its success with children and parents alike.

The parodic nature of the movie is set up immediately, as the story takes places in the gardens of Verona drive and it is here that we witness the blossoming romance of the gnomadic lovers amidst a turf war between the Reds and the Blues. From thereon, high-speed lawnmower chases and stealth missions ensue leaving hearts (and hats) broken.

The continuing feud is fuelled by the petulance and snobbery of two ageing neighbours on a typically British street, as they compete with one another to have the prettiest and most perfect garden – one of them with a penchant for red gnomes with the other favouring blue. Each of the homes is named after one of the warring families from the Shakespeare classic with the blue gnomes known as the Montague’s and the red’s as the Capulet’s.

Shrek 2 (2004) director, Kelly Asbury, has managed to make Gnomeo & Juliet a truly British affair, with home-grown talent coming from the likes of Matt Lucas, Ozzy Osbourne, Stephen Merchant, Michael Caine and Ashley Jensen, providing the voices that support the films leading characters, played by James McAvoy and Emily Blunt. The soundtrack also comes from British talent, as some of Elton John’s classic songs are re-worked to provide an entertaining, fun and energetic score that will keep children gripped from start to finish.

The animations are what we have become accustomed to in recent years, following the release of films like Shrek (2001), Ice Age (2002) and the Toy Story trilogy, and they are of an excellent standard. However, at times they are a little too human and realistic – whatever happened to the escapist and fantastical cartoons of the past that truly pushed the imagination of a child? Regardless of such aged rantings, Gnomeo & Juliet is easy on the eye and the animations serve their purpose well.

As earlier mentioned, this may not be a film for the feint-hearted – or at least those with a particular fear of gnomes – but it is definitely a good film for kids, with its daft and playful humour and a story that is imbued with a moralistic tale of forgiveness and love, whilst not being to long and overly twee for an adult audience.

Overall, it is a great film for children and carries with it all of the morals necessary to make it a success with parents too, and may even get a couple of laughs from them in the process – unless of course you really do have a fear of gnomes.

Russell Cook