Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Quick Look: GNOMEO AND JULIET

It has made nearly 190 million dollars worldwide, played in the local multiplex for a few months, I just finished watching it on Blu-ray, and I’m still not entirely sure that Gnomeo and Juliet exists. I’m not losing my mind (of course it exists), but perhaps that’s the better alternative to acknowledging that (1) someone made a kid-friendly Romeo and Juliet starring lawn gnomes with a happy ending and (2) it was actually kind of popular. The CG animation is bright and colorful with appealingly rubbery textures that make the whole thing look like a Playskool toy’s daydream. I quite liked the colors, but beyond that my level of engagement with the material was somewhere ever so slightly above somnambulant. I simply didn’t care about the long-lasting feud between the red gnomes and the blue gnomes and all of the reasons that the lovers couldn’t be together. It plays out as if the screenwriters (all nine of them) and the director (Kelly Asbury) made a list of the worst tendencies in modern children’s animation and then proceeded to use said list as a checklist. There are annoying winks towards pop culture (even poor Bill Shakespeare gets dragged into this). There’s the eccentric panoply of celebrity voices (from stars James McAvoy and Emily Blunt to parts for Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Patrick Stewart, Jason Statham, Ozzy Osbourne, Hulk Hogan, and Dolly Parton). There’s a reliance on cheap and easy humor. And, last but not least, there are endless dance sequences to 70’s rock. (Elton John serves as a producer and generously granted his music to be dishonored). The whole thing barely lasts 80 minutes before the end credits, but it manages to feel much, much longer. Perhaps kids will enjoy the movie, but shame on all of the adults who created it for believing that kids should settle for this.

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