Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

“Oh, No-meo!”


You will be Fortune’s fool if you see this movie instead of reading Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” before your quiz.

The film admits in the first minute that this is a tale you have probably heard over and over and over again, but they are going to tell it anyway. There are strong similarities between the original play and this adaptation. For example, the setting is Verona Drive, the feud is between two neighbors whose last names are Montague and Capulet and their respective garden gnomes colored by their hats, the blues and the reds. The hide-away for the lovers is the abandoned Lawrence Garden (reference Friar Lawrence). Dueling becomes lawn-mower races and Juliet’s balcony is the roof of a tower at the top of the pond. Benvolio’s name evolves into Benny and the Nurse is a frog named Nanette who is a fountain in Juliet’s pond. These changes are more accessible to a modern, young audience and use the “Toy Story” method of inanimate objects that are alive, but must freeze when humans might catch them moving.

Rated G and unnecessarily in 3-D, “Gnomeo & Juliet” has some hidden innuendos for the parents and babysitters to laugh at and counter-act the many, “Is this really happening, right now?” moments, such as the slow motion fight scene between Gnomeo and Tybalt in the trailer.

After sitting in the theater for 84 minutes, you realize that Elton John and a sprinkling of female duet partners, including Lady Gaga, has taken over all but 3 tracks on the soundtrack of this feature film. Though he did not write all original songs for the movie, as he did with “The Lion King” and “The Road to El Dorado,” it was quite enjoyable to see the lawn hippopotamus and crocodile singing to “Crocodile Rock.” Elton John is also an executive producer for the film.

The voice-over cast is a star-studded mix you won’t believe until you see the credits: Gnomeo (James McAvoy), Juliet (Emily Blunt), Lord Redbrick (Michael Caine), Lady Bluebury (Maggie Smith), Tybalt (Jason Statham), Shakespeare (Patrick Stewart), Terrafirminator (Hulk Hogan) and the Fawn (Ozzy Osbourne).

Having Shakespeare as a character, a bus destination of Stratford by Avon, and a quote from Macbeth makes the audience very aware of the original source for this animated comedy. The self-awareness becomes a bit cheesy after a while, especially when Gnomeo discovers the original ending of the play and tries to change it.

The star-crossed lovers in this version meet by night, both in camouflage, as Juliet is trying to show how her father, Lord Redbrick, how vigorous she is by bringing back a rare Cupid’s Arrow Orchid to make the red garden more beautiful than the blue. The label of “delicate” is not a strong argument on Lord Redbrick’s part, as truly all of the gnomes are equally smash-able ceramics. When water washes away Gnomeo and Juliet’s disguises, you think they are gasping because they fell from on high and sunk to the murky bottom of a pond, but the surprise comes from the realization of love for their mortal enemy.

“Gnomeo & Juliet” is nothing like its predecessors in the adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy. It uses mostly modern language, is not based in the human world and changes the plot significantly. It is a brainless comedy, except it hurts your brain when your expectations of what should happen are not met.

For other variations of what some call the most well-known love story of all time, see Zeffirelli’s “Romeo and Juliet” (1968), West Side Story (film version, 1961) or Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in “Romeo + Juliet” (1996).

Margaret Clayton can be reached at [email protected].

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  • Q

    Quotes on HappinessFeb 17, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Gnomeo and Juliet could have been great if they worked just a little more harder at the story, title and staying faithful to Shakespeare’s work. -Luke Robey