Sunday, 10 April 2011

Gnomeo and Juliet (2011) - shamelessly taking the money and destroying the whole point

Viewing Context:
Cinema trip with Corey. Thought this looked much more appealing than Yogi Bear, so utilised my best parent manipulation to influence his decision (bwa haha)

The film had a very British feel to it, which surprised me somewhat. Not only a few of the bigger British names, but anybody familiar with British sit-com, One Foot in the Grave, would have recognised the distinctive sound of Victor Meldrew (actor's name Richard Wilson). So when I saw that it was produced by a company I had never heard of called Starz Animation, I presumed this must be a British animation company, but it isn't; It is Canadian. The film was directed by Kelly Asbury (a guy); he has only a directed a few films (including Shrek 2) but has worked in numerous capacities in many other animated features. It was written by pretty much anybody that saw the script by the looks of it, but it seems to have originated from John R Smith and Rob Sprackling, the team behind Mike Basset: England Manager.

What happened:
Don't really have to go over this one; surely it is all in the title. Romeo and Juliet but played out in two gardens; one with predominantly blue decor, one with red. Red girl = Juliet, complete with over protective Michael Caine as her dad. Blue boy = Romeo, complete with arch nemesis Tybalt (Jason Statham). Star crossed lovers, yadda yadda yadda.

What I liked:
Comical use of source material: Played around with the existing text in an interesting way in bits. Not least of all when Gnomeo finds himself in the garden of some kind of manor house, speaking to a statue of William Shakespeare, voiced by Patrick Stewart.

Missed opportunities or what unimpressed:
Plenty in there that kids would care little about: All that I thought was good about it was completely missed on any children watching, as were the unnecessary sexual innuendos. It must be said that there were plenty'a silly things that seemed to entertain the kids, but although Corey didn't give up on it, nor did it make much of an impression on him.
No sacrifice: I know it's a kids' film and I'm not asking for a real depression session or anything, but there are still points that could be drawn upon for emotional substance. But this brighter than life adaptation completely evaded it. At least it made light of the matter, criticising itself as the statue of Shakespeare argues with Gnomeo as to the point of a happy ending.

Star crossed lovers: Well it is Romeo and Juliet, only without the love, the tragedy, the substance, the theatrics or the point.
Hindered growth of femininity: I did like the point that young femininity is bundled up so carefully by older generations, meaning well, but resisting the current trajectory of increasing gender equality. Gnomeo represents a brazen masculinity, but one of equality, willing Juliet to really get into the lawn mowing. That sounds bad, implying that she should be doing the garden work, but in the film lawn mowing is akin to street racing. It had previously been used in the film as an ultimate expression of masculinity in the Gnomeo vs Tybalt alley race.
Kids should have happy smiling endings: The film pretty much said that kids' films are allowed nothing but the happiest of smiley endings. I find this quite patronising, regressive and one of the things that give children such a warped outlook on the world. It contributes to the mythic structure of a liberal concept of right and wrong and happy ever after. I aren't saying there shouldn't be happy endings, but when they are so disingenuous, rewriting an ultimate narrative of real passion, I can't help but be offended by the diluting of kids' spirits as this light, bright illusion is created.

Scene of the film:
The scene where the two met was really playful and quite charming. Kept me engaged with this relationship for a little bit.

Performance of the film:
Great cameos but the Emily Blunt as Juliet was really impressive. She had a unabashed, refreshing and likable attitude about her.

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