REVIEW: Symbols Of Hope In Touchstone's 'Gnomeo and Juliet'
William Shakespeare’s ‘ROMEO & JULIET’ is a story filled with passion on both ends—love and hate! The story’s been told over and over throughout the centuries, and some have even had their own twist(s). Whether contemporary or keeping it to its official style of language and appeal, it never fails to cease to amaze those who view it, read it or to an extent, act it out. I’ve seen it many times on stage due to supporting fellow thespian friends, I’ve seen it in films and cartoons, and no matter how many times I visualize this classical piece, the essence of the story’s core is deep on every angle and expresses the measures taken by those who share the same level of love at any cost—dead or alive, you’re going to be with me!
Well, it’s 2011 (21st. Century) and Touchstone Pictures will be re-releasing the story X100 and under a pretty unique title—‘GNOMEO & JULIET.’ Touchstone’s approach this time around is in form of a G-Rated CGI animated film. Produced by Starz Animation, ‘GNOMEO & JULIET’ offers the same story, only this one’s upon gnomes.
The film follows two garden gnomes, Gnomeo (James McAvoy) and Juliet (Emily Blunt), who try to avoid life’s tragedy and find a happy ending to their garden-crossed love affair when they are caught up in a feud between neighbors.
I can’t get any clearer when I say I actually enjoyed this film. The simplicity of ‘GNOMEO & JULIET’ is beyond what I expected seeing as this wasn’t your typical PIXAR/DISNEY CGI picture. Filled with hidden messages, this well-layered film of defying others’ objections goes beyond a love story, as my personal interpretation of some characters, and recognizable colors which separated the two families of gnomes, pressed subliminal messages of contemporary debates/and or feuds.
In a nutshell, most of ‘GNOMEO & JULIET’ cleverly uncovered what I felt were a couple of our current issues in the world today…
1) Symbolisms of Xenophobia and/or Racism which were generated through separation of ‘Blue’ and ‘Red’ gnomes. On the flipside, all the mistrust, finger-pointing and constant disagreements, one could also argue defining the differences of ‘Blue’ and ‘Red’ also being political. (Democrats-Blue / Republicans-Red)
2) I won’t give much away, but peripheral characters, and their mannerisms as well as characteristics representing unique life styles. (I.e. Gay, Opposite attractions, Individualism etc.)
Whether my interpretation of this film is wrong or not, I stand firm on what I picked up from this picture, and feel those involved with writing this beautiful story might have had some of what I mentioned in mind.
From beginning to end, this cute film had lots of quirky dialog, lots of recognizable voices (I.e. Ozzy Osbourne, Patrick Stewart, Hulk Hogan) and never allows the viewer to lose track—child or adult—of who’s who, what they represent and the need for all to reach their objectives, whether you may agree with them or not. The most impact I believe this story has is when both sides come to realization that a lot of the fighting is complete nonsense when thoughts of losing their most beloved seem to have been gone forever.
If I had to point out a “downer” for ‘GNOMEO & JULIET,’ it would have to be the lack of story-line between the neighbors. There was a brief scene which quickly displayed the grouches exchange words, but that was it. It didn’t really define anything. Perhaps it’s up to us to decide what the issues were—and that’s fine—but it was a bit of a bummer. However, in a day-and-age when adults don’t seem to be getting along or getting anything done, films like ‘GNOMEO & JULIET’ may in-fact help a bit as parents sit there soaking in a simple story told in CGI animated form. The kids in turn have an easier understanding of what it may be like to be of a different “class” and possible strategies to fight the good fight.
Overall, ‘GNOMEO & JULIET’ may not be the gritty film which presents the on-going embattled story between Montague and Capulet supporters, but the origins of this classic are there and molded in an astute way, and for added pleasure, the entire film is showered with music by Elton John, which also includes one with Lady Ga-Ga.
GRADE: A- / GENRE: Kids/Family, Comedy, Musical/Performing Arts, Animation and Adaptation / ROARS: 4 out of 5
RATED: G / RUN TIME: 1 Hr. 25 Min.
STARRING: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Maggie Smith, Ashley Jensen, Matt Lucas
DIRECTOR: Kelly Asbury
(Opens Fri, Feb 11, 2011)
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