Gnomeo and Juliet (2011)

Rated: G
Length: 84 minutes
Grade: D+,A-,B-,D=C-
Rotten Tomatoes: 55% favorable, 5.6/10 average
Budget: $36 million
Box Office: $209 million (100 U.S., 90 Intl., 19 DVD)

Written by: 9 different people.
Directed by: Kelly Asbury (Shrek 2 and Spirit)
Starring the voices of: James McAvoy and Emily Blunt
With the voices of: Ashley Jansen, Michael Caine, Matt Lucas, Jim Cummings, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham, Patrick Stewart, Stephen Merchant, Hulk Hogan, and Ozzy Osbourne.

Romeo and Juliet in the context of two warring gnome yards in England set to the music of Elton John without all the tragedy.

Entertainment Value: D+
The first four minutes are hilarious and I felt like I was about to see a movie that really fulfilled everything its basic concept promised to be. Unfortunately, the rest was about as flat as flat gets, almost like they hired one set of writers to do the opening but couldn’t afford to keep them, so they replaced them with some mediocre team that did their best, but their best really wasn’t all that good. The ongoing Shakespeare references are a bit fun, but mostly this is just a plot that makes little sense built around the absurdity of a $20,000 lawn mower (9,998 pounds) and concrete sculptures come to life with repeatedly silly consequences. Some movies are so chock full of content you have to watch them intently. Some you can watch casually. Some you can watch while reading a magazine. And some you can watch while cooking dinner in the other room. I made pork and beans for my boys.

Superficial Content: A-
Drugs/Alcohol A, Sex/Nudity A, Violence A-, Language A-
This certainly deserves the G rating. No one gets really hurt (by the end), and the only issue of concern would be some minor nod-to-the-parents type not-quite-vulgar jokes such as “Let’s go kick some grass.”

Significant Content: B
Revenge and feuds only wind up destroying everything. Sometimes catastrophic loss is the only thing to motivate us to avoid a self-destructive pattern. Love is colorblind.

Artistic/Thought Value: D
There were two weird parts of this movie’s overall composition. The first was the overuse of music (especially Elton John songs, who is one executive producer), which was noticeable only for it’s noticeability. The other was the very strange and uncomfortable sequence showing the disintegration of a family (the household of the pink flamingo) without words. It was almost like someone tried to imitate the brilliant opening sequence from Up, only it wound up being sad without being touching.

Discussion Questions:
~Romeo and Juliet (like most Shakespearean plays) is a tragedy whose power derives specifically from the awful poignancy of the final scene. Do you think it’s appropriate for someone to retell this story without honoring the power of that ending? What does it say about modern movies that we cannot endure a tragic ending? Do tragic endings teach us better by contrast than happy ones? What does it say about our artistic tastes that we want our stories to end well rather than being satisfied with bad literary endings motivating us to have our lives end well by learning from the lesson?
~Is revenge ever a legitimate motive for anything? What about retribution for a crime committed? Have you ever done anything in revenge and regretted it?

Overall Grade: C-
I kept wanting it to be much better than it was, a hope which the opening scenes only raised to be dashed by the mediocrity of most everything thereafter.

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