Gnomeo & Juliet's British cast add charm despite pop culture references
Shrek 2 director's animation big on visual jokes but lacks standout sequence
The idea of turning William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet into an animated movie featuring gnomes sounds like a tragedy in its own right, but thanks to a star studded British voice cast and some fun visual jokes, Gnomeo & Juliet almost pulls it off.
The film is, however, ultimately undone by a few too many pop culture references and by its decision to pay more respect to the songs and celebrity of executive producer Elton John, than to the bard’s source material.
The story is essentially the same, albeit transported to a couple of quaint neighbouring English gardens in Stratford-upon-Avon (one of several nice touches) where a long-standing feud pits the red cap gnomes of one against the blue caps of the other via lawnmower races and covert raids.
Caught in the middle are love-struck Gnomeo (voiced by James McAvoy) and his beloved Juliet (Emily Blunt) as well as ornamental Bambi, a toadstool and a zany pink flamingo.
Given that writer/director Kelly Asbury is a veteran of the Shrek franchise (he directed Shrek 2) it’s hardly surprising to find that the film shares an irreverent pop sensibility, but this goes against it, as does the lack of a genuinely standout sequence.
General release from Friday 11 Feb.