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Movie Review

Gnomeo and Juliet also known as “Gnomeo & Juliet”

Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids Family
Family Adventure Comedy Fantasy Romance Animation
1 hr. 24 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
February 11, 2011 (wide—2,700+ theaters)
DVD: May 24, 2011
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Kid Explorers
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
Featuring: Jason Statham (Tybalt), Emily Blunt (Juliet), James McAvoy (Gnomeo), Michael Caine (Lord Redbrick), Maggie Smith (Lady Blueberry), Patrick Stewart (Bill Shakespeare), Julie Walters (Miss Montague), Jim Cummings (Featherstone), Stephen Merchant (Paris), Matt Lucas (Benny), Dolly Parton (Dolly), Hulk Hogan (Terrafirmenator), Ashley Jensen (Nanette), Richard Wilson (Mr. Capulet), Ozzy Osbourne (Fawn), Steven Kynman (Football Gnome)
Director: Kelly Asbury—“Beauty and the Beast,” “Kung Fu Panda,” “Shrek 2”
Producer: Elton John, Rocket Pictures, Starz Animation, Touchstone Pictures, Baker Bloodworth, David Furnish, Igor Khait, Kara Lord, Steve Hamilton Shaw
Distributor: Miramax Films

“A little adventure goes a lawn way.”

Copyrighted, Miramax Films

Anyone who has taken a high-school English class is likely to be acquainted with the love tragedy of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” On the bright side, this G-rated adaptation is very loosely based on the classic and delivers the required happy Disney ending without a double suicide. Though the two lead gnomes share a sweet courtship, it’s all too brief as their rival families take the forefront with their rather violent feud.

For an unexplained reason, two elderly neighbors, Montague and Capulet hate each other. Their verbal chats consist of exchanging insults on their way out to their cars or by shouting accusations over the backyard fence. Though enemies, both share the pride of cultivating beautiful, color-themed gardens: one red and the other blue. Whenever the feuding homeowners leave, their garden gnomes pull a “Toy Story” maneuver and instantly come to life. Instead of being friends, the two groups continue on the feud: a battle between the Reds and the Blues.

Juliet (Emily Blunt) is a Red and an over-sheltered daughter. Seeing a rare, exquisite flower in an abandoned greenhouse, she believes it’s the key to making the Red’s garden the envy of the Blues. Upon sneaking out to pluck the flower, Juliet is spotted by Gnomeo (James McAvoy), an audacious Blue, who curiously begins to follow her. As soon as the two lay eyes on each other, the sparks fly and the flirting begins. Everything is peachy until they find out their rival colors. Like the Shakespearian classic, the feud no long matters to them. Gnomeo and Juliet secretly begin spending time together, befriend a flamingo, and fall in love.

The movie is very brief in its run and clever in certain areas. Though not entirely hilarious, the film has its cute moments and solid number of chuckles. The musical numbers mostly consist of rendition of Elton John songs with rewritten lyrics customized to address the love lives of garden gnomes. The gnomes, themselves, are graphically well designed with cracks and stiff, brittle movements. The best scene is when Gnomeo speaks with a Shakespearian statue about the beauty of tragedy vs. happy endings. Gnomeo and Juliet’s love is proven to be deep with Gnomeo willing to die for his lady love (John 15:13).

However, with that said, this movie should not have been given a G rating. The level of innuendos and violence should have pushed it up to a solid PG rating. The bitter neighbors call each other names (nitwit, witch, hag, idiot, loser, etc). One gnome says “let’s go kick some grass.” Juliet is told that she “looks hot” and has “nice junk in the trunk.” One gnome who consistently uses wrong phrases states that he loves “going commando.” Some female gnomes are shown with very large breasts and low-cut shirts and short shorts.

Most likely aimed for adults, the film has several pop cultural references from previous films. From “Forrest Gump” to “Finding Nemo,” these references were welcomed. However, it seems rather odd that this film would also includes cultural references from R-rated films, as well. “American Beauty” is referenced when a character has a similar fantasy of floating red-rose petals. The infamous thong mankini which Borat wore is the only apparel one gnome wears throughout the entire film. Though he is not shown much, he does briefly turn around at the end of the film, showing his thong and sun-burnt butt cheeks. Upon chatting with one parent after the film’s showing, she told me that there was also a reference to “Brokeback Mountain.” Though I have never seen that film, other film critics have also commented on this reference.

Though the violence is bloodless, the gnomes would often laugh at the thought of revenge, even saying that “payback is gonna be fun.” To get even, Gnomeo sneaks into the Reds’ garden with spray paint and vandalizes some pottery. Upon seeing the damage, Tybalt (Jason Statham) laughs and says that he’s going to cause the Blues “lots and lots of damage” After the Blue’s most cherished garden tree is destroyed by a Red (off screen), they decide to retaliate against the Reds with weed killer. During the climax, Gnomeo and Tybalt begin to fight on a speeding lawn mower. When Gnomeo is nearly pushed off, he warns Tybalt of an upcoming wall. Tybalt is shown flying off, and the camera pans away at the moment of impact. However, his shattered remains are briefly shown. The Reds’ mourning of Tybalt soon turns to anger as they shout “gnome for gnome!” and attempt to kill Gnomeo by throwing rocks at him. They chase him to a street where he’s seemingly run over by a truck.

When believing Gnomeo to be dead, the Blues decide to completely destroy the Reds. They say that this vengeance is “for Gnomeo.” After buying a massive lawn mower, one of the blues is shown laughing as he plows through the Red’s backyard, sending the Reds screaming for cover.

In one scene, Tybalt, corners a Blue, who has a big pointy hat (a thing of beauty for the gnomes). The blue is intimidated and desperately tries to run to the safety of his garden. However, Tybalt manages to cut off the blue’s cherished hat. While the attacked blue gnome sits in shock and slowly touches his damaged head, Tybalt laughs at his victory. Though I do not have children of my own, this scene disturbed me at the thought of the number of impressionable children, sitting in the audience.

I know “Gnomeo and Juliet” is based on Shakespeare’s play, which in all fairness isn’t a walk in the park itself. However, this film sells itself as a children’s movie with the most possibly innocent rating a film could obtain. A child should not watch a movie where gnomes attack each other and laugh. Though the feud ended, this was moment was all too brief. While the movie did garner some laughs, it still doesn’t warrant a recommendation. My advice is to skip it entirely.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—While the film itself should’ve been rated as a PG, due to some relatively minor content, I disagree that this shouldn’t be shown to kids. I don’t think it should be shown to toddlers, but it seems appropriate for older children. With that said, the filmmakers did a fantastic job of adapting Shakespeare’s tragedy for youngsters. It’s fun, funny, and cute. Being a fan of Shakespeare, especially the play “Romeo and Juliet,” I found this to be really enjoyable.

For the person who noted that, in the film, Juliet disobeys her father by leaving the yard, the film is not encouraging kids to rebel against their parents. It’s a portrayal of Juliet’s rebellious nature.

I would totally recommend this to those who like (and even dislike) Shakespeare.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Shannon H., age 29 (USA)
Positive—This was a pretty sweet movie. Just when I would think it was getting a little too kiddish and silly for me, something would rekindle my interest. The animation was good, and I really enjoyed most of the voice acting, especially James McAvoy and Emily Blunt. I have heard and read complaints about the whole revenge plot… but I thought it showed how revenge just keeps getting worse every time, until everything you love is destroyed. When it was over, after everyone had gone crazy, the gnomes were horrified and devastated at what they had done. So I had no qualms about that whatsoever.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Cathy Fogrine, age 18 (USA)
Positive—Although this movie was made by Elton John, it is surprisingly very clean. The only unclean part of it was a man gnome in a swim suit that shows the back of his butt, which is humorously disturbing, but still really funny. I enjoyed this film very much, and was relieved that there were no uses of our Lord’s name in vain (which is a common trait of Hollywood). “Gnomeo and Juliet” I fancy more than Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” And I’m a fan of Shakespeare, so that is saying quite a lot.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Bryce, age 20 (United Kingdom)
Neutral—“Gnomeo and Juliet” isn’t a bad film per say. It’s not a good film either. It’s somewhere in between. I decided to rent this film with my nephew, because he loved the movie in theaters, and I had never seen it. So we said, Ok let’s rent it. I watched it and while there were some parts I enjoyed, other parts I said, “It was okay.” Again, this isn’t a bad film, and I enjoyed most of it. The performances were decent, and the graphics were amazing. Sony Pictures did a good job. The moral of this movie is “Hatred destroys.” It can turn anything from good to bad in a split second, and Romeo and Juliet, or, in this case, Gnomeo and Juliet, is a perfect example. Again, good movie—just not one worth the DVD collection.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 2½
Alexander Malsan, age 21 (USA)
Negative—Reds vs blues. Revenge was throughout the entire movie (with one exception to the ending). Blues spray-painted blue’s lawn mower, blue, red’s retaliated and destroyed blue’s much loved flowers, blue’s then wanting revenge. Juliet disobeys her father, he says not to leave the garden, she leaves the garden, (yes he was being unreasonable, but the Bible is clear, children must obey their parents). Juliet tries to steal a flower from a neighboring property. What kind of a message does that send our children? “If you want it, just go take it.”

Juliet tells her frog friend to cover for her when sneaking out to meet Gnomeo. Telling friend to tell her father that she’s gone to wash her hair. A red and a blue gnome are having a race on lawn mowers. Red gnome wins and stands up on lawn mower triumphantly doing devil sign on both hands. Blue gnome tags red gnome’s well.

Juliet’s father tries to set Juliet up with another gnome. In one scene the gnome is showing his chest hairs. They look like 3 number 9s. Turn those around and what have you got? Might be innocent, but I wouldn’t put it past Hollywood to sneak that in. One gnome says something that sounded like, “Oh my Lor,” and then stopped.

Man and woman sitting on lawn chairs together, then man leads woman off into house hand in hand, then you see them in bedroom upstairs having a cuddle, behind a curtain. That scene changes to the two them arguing with each other, and ending the relationship/marriage—not sure. Three good messages come from it though.

1. Whether you’re a red or a blue, that doesn’t matter. Love is love.
2. Revenge leads to destruction.
3. Letting go of the past. Forgiveness.

I’d say, not a movie for children. We’re trying to teach our kid’s how to live morally right, teach them to not lie, steal or seek revenge, this movie does all of the above. Take the revenge, lying and stealing out and it would’ve been an alright movie. Ok for adults who are not easily influenced, but definitely for children.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—N.E, age 29 (New Zealand)
Negative—Yes, this movie is cute. And though there is violence, there is a moral message. What is bad in this movie are the overt and veiled sexual references. For those who aren’t familiar, Romeo and Juliet is ripe with crude sexual references that most people are not aware of. That is why it is allowed in high schools! Box it up in pretty language that people don’t understand, and all it is is a beautifully written classic by a very intelligent playwright. And Gnomeo and Juliet mirrors these in what I see as a crafty and deceptive move by the filmmaker.

It’s been awhile since I saw the movie, and it took a second watching for me to see what was right before my eyes. I won’t point them all out, mostly because I don’t remember all of them and because other people have already pointed some out, but I will give one example: At the end of the film, garden rabbits and gnomes are seen dancing together in celebration. One gnome dives into the rabbit’s long ears with his pointy hat. This is a pretty veiled reference, but knowing the content of Romeo and Juliet pretty well, having majored in English Lit, I can see this as a sexual reference, with the gnome’s pointy hat standing in for another body part and the rabbit’s ears standing in for a woman’s legs, especially given the content of the rest of the film and the not-so-veiled comments.

In high school, I wasn’t aware of the deeper meanings in the play, and I think it is very dangerous. I don’t think high school students are mature enough for the content, let alone children. Once I realized what was going on, I saw the references everywhere.

A G rating? Apparently the ratings board are unfamiliar with the deeper, subtler references in “Romeo and Juliet” and only saw the masquerade. But even the overt material should have earned at least a PG-13 rating. This could have been a cute movie, but having my eyes opened and seeing the filmmaker’s intent, to do exactly what Shakespeare’s plays have ended up being, giving us a movie that poses as a great children’s film because it is wrapped up in pretty clothing, I saw it for what it really is, an inappropriate movie for anyone.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Amy, age 35 (USA)
Comments from young people
Neutral—The movie taught that hatred leads to destruction. I am not paranoid like the one who complained about the numbers. I just found it a boring movie for older people. The 7th and 8th graders at my school had to watch it, and I think younger kids will enjoy it. It shows a moral, though. Hatred leads to destruction.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: none
—Pete, age 14 (Canada)
Positive—I really enjoyed this movie. Yes, there was some sexual innuendo, but I highly doubt that children will catch any of it, and it makes the movie funny, in my opinion. It was a cute and funny movie. Unless I missed something, there was no swearing. I would recommend this movie to anyone looking for a cute family movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Kelsey, age 17 (USA)
Neutral—I thought this was a very good movie. It was funny, cute, and had practically nothing bad in it. There was one guy in a outfit that barely covered anything, except his private area, but it wasn’t the kind of thing that was dirty, just gross and funny. I was actually kind of surprised that there was no homosexuality, because Elton John was executive producer. In fact, that is why I rated it neutral, because Elton John and his “husband,” David Furnish, made the movie together. So, I suggest that, if you buy the movie, you get it used, so as not to give them any money.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Rosey, age 16 (USA)