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Review – Gnomeo & Juliet (C)

Gnomeo & Juliet Review -
Our Gnomeo & Juliet Review.
Director: Kelly Asbury
Starring: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham
Release Date: US / UK – Out Now

This movie has been in development hell for the best part of a decade and the fact that it’s seeing light of day at all is nothing short of a miracle. However, you can’t help but wonder if, maybe, just maybe, it could have done with another rewrite. After all, the premise is a solid one and the story is engagingly told, it’s just that the finished product is lacking something, that special ingredient.

Leading an outstanding roster of UK vocal talent including Emily Blunt, Michael Caine, Matt Lucas, Ashley Jensen, Jason Statham, Maggie Smith, Stephen Merchant, Patrick Stewart and Ozzy flamin’ Osbourne is James McAvoy as star-crossed lover Gnomeo. The set-up is a familiar one, with a unique twist to liven up proceedings. Mrs Montague lives in a blue house next to her bitter rival Mr Capulet and his red house on Verona Drive. Their garden gnomes – who are also colour co-ordinated – wait for their owners to leave for work so that they can cause havoc amongst each other. All that changes, however, when Gnomeo meets Juliet (Blunt) one night and their fates change forever. Can you tell where this is going? Hint: it’s a kid’s movie.

Gnomeo & Juliet Review -
The main problem with the film is that there’s literally nothing on offer here that you won’t have seen/ read/ been taught at school before. Everyone and their dog knows how Romeo & Juliet plays out, and the addition of gnomes doesn’t change anything. In fact, this is somehow less interesting than Baz Luhrmann’s modernised Romeo + Juliet, as the only thing it can really add to the source material is child-friendly comedy.

To be fair to the film, it is genuinely amusing, and quite often. You’ll never get anything approaching a belly-laugh and most of the good gags were blown in the trailer, but what’s left is definitely entertaining for the young ‘uns. Adults will probably have more enjoyment trying to spot the more hidden Shakespeare gags (‘a weed is still a weed by any other name’ being a firm favourite.)

The British flavouring is excellent throughout. The cast are incredible (possible exceptions being Ozzy Osbourne, who doesn’t sound too sure of himself, and McAvoy, who doesn’t sound that relaxed), although Merchant and Stewart only get a few lines between them. Real surprise here is Statham, who is ruddy brilliant in a minor villain’s role. Perhaps what’s most interesting about this British film is that the only American thing in it turns out to be a source of great destruction.

Gnomeo & Juliet Review -
So that’s Gnomeo & Juliet. Not as good as the title, but not as bad as it could have been. If only it was a bit quicker with the gags, or tried harder to stray away from the source material, then it would be a winner. Like this, there’s gnome reason to recommend it.

Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
Our Grade: C

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