The critics didn’t think too much of it, but Disney’s Gnomeo & Juliet, an animated adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” was in my book one of the absolutely best movies of 2011. The story of two star-crossed lovers caught up in a family feud, using garden gnomes as the protagonists, is just as captivating on screen as it is as written by the Bard, and in this version, there’s a happy ending.
Gnomeo, voiced by James McAvoy, and Emily Blunt doing the voice of Juliet, inhabit the neighboring gardens of Montague and Capulet, and their families, the Blue and Red gnomes, are at war. During one of their frequent skirmishes against each other, Gnomeo and Juliet meet, and as their namesakes did in Shakespeare’s story, fall in love. They face as many obstacles, with smart-alecky pink flamingos and lawn mower duels thrown into the mix.
Director Kelly Asbury, who also co-directed the popular Shrek 2, pulled out all the stops in this production, with original music by Elton John, and the voices of Jason Stratham, Ozzy Osbourne, Michael Caine, and Patrick Stewart in some stellar performances. Michael Caine is a hoot as Lord Redbrick, leader of the red gnomes, and he plays off nicely against Maggie Smith who voices Lady Bluebury, leader of the blue gnomes. Patrick Stewart, known to most viewers as Jean Luc Picard, the captain of the Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation, got his start on stage as a Shakespearean actor, so it’s appropriate that he’s the voice of Bill Shakespeare.
With its fantastic production values, great music, and non-stop action, this is a movie that will appeal to young and old alike. In addition to being funny and entertaining, it sneakily shows the folly of feuds that started so long ago no one remembers what the original problem was. The conversation between Gnomeo and Juliet as they discover that a red and a blue can actually love each other despite their ‘differences,’ alone makes the movie a classic in my book; what do the critics know about real life anyway? The lawn mower duel scenes will even impress fans of Rush Hour, and the fight scenes are an animated version of Die Hard. Honestly; if you haven’t seen this movie, you’re really missing out. If you’d like a little taste before buying a ticket or ordering the DVD, check out the trailer. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed. These little stone characters are ‘stone’ good!
“Gnomeo & Juliet” is a Touchstone Pictures release that came out in February 2011.