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Garden gnome Gnomeo (voice of James McAvoy) and Juliet (voice of Emily Blunt) live in the Montague and Capulet gardens in Stratford-on-Avon. The gnomes mirror their owners' hostilities. The Montague garden is blue, the Capulet's is red. When Gnomeo from the Blues meets Juliet from the Reds, they are instantly smitten, even though their love is forbidden. Meanwhile, there are other distractions, such as lawnmower races, a pink flamenco with one leg, a philosophical frog fountain and mushroom sidekick.

Review by Louise Keller:
Garden gnomes, Shakespeare's tale of forbidden love and Elton John's music are the ingredients of this kitsch and colourful animation whose one-joke concept has its fun moments but only works in a limited, one-dimensional way. Youngsters will love the bright colours and the gnome wonderland with spotted mushrooms, talking sunflowers, a scene stealing frog with rubbery lips, a busty Dolly Parton gnome and a pink plastic flamenco with Spanish accent, although the novelty soon wears thin.

The script is simply not good enough; fresh, innovative ideas are in short supply. Try as the film might, it also lacks a heart. But it does have some cute elements, beginning with the prologue, read by a little gnome whose red hat is pulled so firmly over his eyes, we wonder how he can read at all.

Produced by Elton John's production company Rocket Pictures, it's easy to understand the inclusion of many of his hit tunes. The fantasy scene of an animated Elton with spangled specs flapping on the keyboard is funny, although hearing some of his well known songs in this context is rather disconcerting. (There are a couple of token crocs thrown into the Crocodile Rock finale segment.)

When the film begins, the antagonism between the widow Montague, the widower Capulet and their respective garden gnomes is made clear. Like the drivers in The Fast and the Furious, the gnome race on lawnmowers is turbo charged; it prompts a running gag about the Terrafirminator, the mother of all lawnmowers. Although the central theme is the love story between Gnomeo and Juliet (looking like a Cinderella-gnome), the mainstay of the action concentrates on the shenanigans in the two gardens. The high profile voice cast led by James McAvoy and Emily Blunt is mostly wasted.

The bronze statue of the Bard deliberates with Gnomeo about the possibility of a different outcome to his play's tragic ending - a clever solution by the seven scriptwriters, although the youngsters won't understand it and to everyone else, it smacks of contrivance.
First published in the Sun-Herald

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(UK/US, 2011)

VOICES: Jason Statham, Emily Blunt, James McAvoy, Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Patrick Stewart, Julie Walters, Jim Cummings, Stephen Merchant

PRODUCER: Baker Bloodworth, David Furnish, Steve Hamilton-Shaw

DIRECTOR: Kelly Asbury

SCRIPT: Kelly Asbury, Mark Burton, Kevin Cecil, Emily Cook, Kathy Greenberg, Andy Riley, Steve Hamilton Shaw [based on screenplay by John R. Smith, Rob Sprackling] (play by William Shakespeare)

EDITOR: Catherine Apple

MUSIC: Chris Bacon, James Newton Howard, Elton John


RUNNING TIME: 84 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 17, 2011

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