Kelly Asbury | 84 mins | Blu-ray | 1.78:1 | UK & USA / English | U / G
Gnomeo & Juliet is the latest British attempt to crack the lucrative CGI animated kids’ movie market, after the lack of success (or, alternatively, failure) from the likes of Flushed Away and that one about the carrier pigeon whose name escapes me (after a quick IMDBing, it’s Valiant). Finally, this one seems to have been more of a success… perhaps because it was backed by Elton John, released by Disney (under Touchstone), and helmed by the co-director of Shrek 2.
The obvious high-concept — Romeo and Juliet, with gnomes! — is the kind of thing that will tickle you or set you screaming with rage (or possibly just tutting with contempt). If the latter, your mileage will vary on how charming it is to win you over; if the former, “tickled” is about the level the film operates at. It pulls off a couple of nice jokes, mainly around the fact it stars garden gnomes, and it plays with your expectations towards the end, but it’s pretty forgettable — I know there were some bits that made me chuckle, but I can’t actually remember any of them now. It’s also stuffed with recognisable British voices, making it quite fun for anyone who (like me) likes to play Spot The Famous Voice.
My only other note is that it ends with a truly awful cover of Crocodile Rock by Nelly Furtado. A storyboarded “all’s well that ends well” ending (included on the BD, and the DVD for all I know) looks much better.
Gnomeo & Juliet is more amiable than its “oh, you didn’t” title might suggest, but that’s about all. Shakespeare certainly has nothing to worry about.