Thanks to the good folks at 365 Things To Do in the Twin Cities, my wife and I just got back from seeing Gnomeo & Juliet at a free advance screening. A friend of mine recently said this about this movie: "it's never a good sign when you know the movie title came before the movie concept." And, after sitting through this screening, I have to agree.
Given the title, you know what the movie is about right away. Two star-crossed lovers try to find a way to save their relationship even though their families are at war. In this case, the two feuding clans are anthropomorphic garden gnomes in neighboring backyard gardens behind a duplex (2B and not 2B Verona Way. Seriously). Gnomeo is a blue gnome, as are all of his kin. Juliet is a red gnome. The coloration of their hats is enough for these two groups as they race lawn mowers in the alley. But then Gnomeo and Juliet meet in a nearby abandoned lot and everything goes south, especially when one of Juliet's kin, a burly gnome named Tybalt, starts making trouble.
So . . . what's good about this movie? Shakespearean Easter eggs. If you know Shakespeare, keep your eyes open for passing references to other plays. And there are a few laugh-out-loud moments along with some interesting casting choices. Hulk Hogan, Patrick Stewart, even Dolly Parton (!) show up from time to time.
But that brings us to the down side. The movie really isn't all that good. Yes, I know, it's a kids' movie, but still. I just couldn't get into it. Part of the reason why is the 3D. There's no reason for this movie to be in 3D. It adds nothing except, I'm guessing, a few extra dollars at the box office. The movie is extremely short, clocking in somewhere around 1:20. The plot seems extremely incoherent and thrown together. There were close to a dozen writers listed in the credits; that's usually not a good sign.
By the end of the movie, I thought that the director had a weird Elton John fetish. Elton John imagery pops up everywhere. Then I saw that Elton John was the executive producer and that little puzzle suddenly made sense. But I'm thinking the be-spectacled one might be better served staying out of kids movies from here on out. Just saying.