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Gnomeo & Juliet - Blu-ray Movie Review

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Gnomeo & Juliet Movie Review

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4 stars

It probably took a hell of a lot of weed smoking to produce the general wackiness behind Touchstone’s (their first animated feature since 1993) take on Shakespeare’s classic tragedy of Romeo & Juliet.  Seriously, what better and most offensive way is there to celebrate the literary highs of the Bard then with ceramic suburban charms caught up in a Yard-busting property feud.  Bursting with a breakneck speed and silly comedic moments that both work and sometimes don’t, Gnomeo and Juliet is an interesting and amusing tale of pint-sized forbidden love.

Gnomeo (voiced by James McAvoy) leads the blue Montague garden of lawn ornaments in their turf-war between the red-coated Capulets.  Of course, the statues only move when the humans aren’t looking.  As with the original story, the Montague family spends their time in a constant tug-of-war with the Capulets and everybody is alright with that – until Gnomeo meets Juliet (Emily Blunt) and sends both houses into a tailspin of madcap adventure.  Working on the side of the lovers, Nanette (Ashley Jensen), Juliet’s frog friend, and Featherstone (Jim Cummings), a plastic pink flamingo, devise a plan where the lovers can spend their time together – under wraps of everyone else.  With voices supplied by Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham, Stephen Merchant, Ozzy Osbourne (as Bambi) and Patrick Stewart (as The Bard himself), Gnomeo and Juliet keeps it scissor-like tongue firmly in cheek as our lovers try to find true happiness.

Chock full of deranged sight gags and zippy banter, the script, penned by John R. Smith, Rob Sprackling and seven other scribes (including Shakespeare himself), feels more like one extended Looney Tune minus the ACME dynamite.  The music is supplied by Elton John and features new songs penned by Sir Elton’s longtime writing partner, Bernie Taupin.  Yet, the computer-generated action is as outrageous as those classic Warner Bros cartoons of yore.  Sure, this is silly stuff meant for kids to dig their grubby little hands into, but the speed and wit of the piece – not to mention Kelly Asbury’s (Shrek 2) slick direction – will make adults laugh at its absurdities, too.

The craftsmanship of the animated figures is simply amazing.  Top notch stuff, really, that will keep your eyes glued to the colorful antics on the screen.  Starz Animation did the CG-rendering and, having previously worked on Shane Acker’s canvas figures for 9, they certainly retain the quality of that look and step their game up with the constant clinking (every time they touch)  and clay-like features of the garden gnomes here.  It sounds funny in print, but they really do look like the gnomes they are portraying on screen.

Still with me?

While it isn’t wholly original material, Gnomeo and Juliet benefits greatly because it isn’t Shrek the Tired; it isn’t Madagascar 4.5 or the next Ice Age flick geared toward the empty wallets of Moms and Dads everywhere.  Sometimes that’s all it takes to draw a crowd willing to pay; a little ingenuity.  We get that happy ending, so the whole Shakespeare angle is loosey goosey.  When the references and gags skip out of traditional Romeo and Juliet territory and starts fencing with Shakespeare (proper) and pop culture itself, the film really comes alive with an inspired bit of nuttiness.  Sure, there are some generic moments (copping Toy Story a bit), but there are some pretty unexpected moments, too.

Allow me this guilty pleasure, if you will.  Yet, I have a feeling British audiences will like this farce a lot better than the Americans will.  I could be wrong, but the humor is so whacked throughout Gnomeo and Juliet that it could alienate a few strict Puritans so offended by the sight of bronze-toned gnomes rolling around on Verona Street, rock hard, in super tight banana hammocks.

Ehm.

No matter where you fall on liking or hating this animated comedy, one thing is certain about Gnomeo and Juliet’s intent – it ain’t Shakespeare.

Thank god.

{pgomakase}

{2jtab: Film Details}

Gnomeo & Juliet Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: G for general audiences.
Director
: Kelly Asbury
Writer
: Kelly Asbury
Cast:
James McAvoy; Emily Blunt; Ashley Jensen; Michael Caine; Matt Lucas
Genre
: animated | family | comedy
Memorable Movie Quote:
"Red gnomes and blue gnomes have been enemies forever."
Tagline:
A little adventure goes a lawn way.
Distributor: Touchstone Pictures
Official Site:
www.gnomeoandjuliet.com
Release Date: February 11, 2011
Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available

Plot Synopsis: The greatest love story ever told, starring...garden gnomes? In "Gnomeo & Juliet," Shakespeare's revered tale gets a comical, off-the-wall makeover. Directed by Kelly Asbury (co-director of "Shrek 2") and showcasing both classic and original songs by Elton John, the film features the voices of James McAvoy and Emily Blunt as Gnomeo and Juliet, who have as many obstacles to overcome as their quasi namesakes when they are caught up in a feud between neighbors. But with plastic pink flamingos and thrilling lawnmower races in the mix, can this young couple find a happy ending?

{2jtab: Blu-ray/DVD Review}

Gnomeo & Juliet Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

3 Stars



Blu-ray Experience
3.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - May 24, 2011
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Three-disc set (2 BDs, 1 DVD); Digital copy (on disc); DVD copy; Blu-ray 3D

This all-digital transfer is superb. Full of crisp detail and actual depth, the 1080p transfer does not disappoint. The color palette is bright and runs the gamut of color and style and makes for a very engaging home theatre experience.  The garden environment is alive with wondrous detail and leafy greens. This is digital heaven. The DTS-HD MA 7.1 lossless soundtrack does its job in immersing the audience in the Elton John world the gnomes inhabit, but there are times when the sound doesn’t feel as clear as it could be.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None.

Special Features:

The blu-ray release comes with a DVD copy of the film, but doesn’t have a great many special features.  There is a brief making of the film which highlights Sir Elton John’s involvement with the picture.  There is also a different dance routine that closes out the picture, but alongside a healthy dose of unfinished deleted scenes and a couple of vocal performances highlighted, the special features just don’t have much depth.

  • Elton Builds a Garden (6 min)
  • Alternate Endings With Filmmaker Introductions (4 min)
  • Deleted and Alternate Scenes With Filmmaker Introductions (43 min)
  • Frog Talk with Ashley Jensen (2 min)
  • The Fawn of Darkness (2 min)
  • Crocodile Rock music video (2 min)
  • DVD Copy

{2jtab: Trailer}

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