Sunday, April 1, 2012

Gnomeo and Juliet

It's Red vs. Blue in this retelling of Shakespeare's
Romeo and Juliet. The star-crossed lovers take the form of ceramic garden gnomes in the 2011 CGI film Gnomeo and Juliet.

I was somewhat afraid that they would take the names and that would be the extent of the relation to the play, but it does follow the essential storyline of R&J. There are a few changes; the gnomes don't mix at a party, for instance, but Gnomeo runs into Juliet when she's cat-burgling an orchid for the Red's garden. Their first encounter is more of an acrobatic flirtation than a traditional dance.

There are a lot of great Shakespeare references for the aficionados as well as slapstick for the kids. (Honestly, I was pretty nervous throughout from the tinkling of ceramic in motion.) It all follows the story pretty closely -- included a ceramic shattering of Juliet's cousin Tybalt. Gnomeo gets chased away to the park where he encounters, in one of my favorite scenes, the statue of Shakespeare, who explains how the story is supposed to go, and why it's such good writing.

Although Gnomeo is the one who has the knowledge to possibly change their tragic fate, it doesn't come across too much as male heroics. I don't think I can spoil the ending -- it is a kids' movie, after all -- but I won't say anything more specific than that.

In spite of being, as I said, nominally a kids' movie, the pacing is good, and there are lots of puns and plenty of humor for the adults to catch. Shakespeare references, from other plays as well as R&J, abound, and the writing is sharp throughout. The casting is good, and the animation -- while veering more toward cartoonish than realistic -- was well done and fitting. I was completely charmed by this movie.

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