Gnomeo & Juliet (U)

Voices of: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Jason Statham

John Walsh@johnhenrywalsh
Friday 11 February 2011 01:00

Produced by David Furnish and executive produced by Elton John, with vocal talents from Hulk Hogan to Ozzy Osbourne roped in – this animated re-telling of Romeo and Juliet with garden gnomes has got "vanity project" and "self-indulgent failure" written all over it, don't you think?

Amazingly, it works rather well. Here's a bustling world of garden ornaments, hot-rod lawnmower races, Latino flamingos and a plaster suitor called Paris (geddit?). The star-cross'd lovers inhabit adjacent gardens whose feuding owners, Mr Capulet (Richard Wilson) and Miss Montague (Julie Walters), know nothing of the internecine strife between the red-capped and blue-capped gnomes, or the passions beating behind their fishing rods. Michael Caine and Maggie Smith play senior gnomes, Emily Blunt is perfect as the voice of Juliet, amused and playful, and James McAvoy does his blokeish everyman bit as Gnomeo (though his gnome face resembles Dominic Cooper). Ashley Jensen steals the show as Juliet's nurse, a huge romantic frog called Nanette. The producers were clearly hoping for a hybrid of Toy Story and Shrek, and while the film doesn't have the lovability and wit of the former, or the mad creativity of the latter, it's directed with flair and energy, spirited, funny and charming.

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