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“Gnomeo and Juliet” evokes laughter, with some drawbacks

When owners are home, the gnomes guard their lawn. But while the owners are away, the gnomes will play. And when the owners, Miss Montague (Julie Walters) and Mr. Capulet (Richard Wilson), have an ongoing feud, their garden gnomes continue the feud after they leave.

When two star-crossed lovers, Gnomeo (James McAvoy) of the Blue family and Juliet (Emily Blunt) of the Red family, fall in love, chaos ensues.

This premise — reminiscent of “Toy Story” — is the story behind “Gnomeo & Juliet.” This film, which was written by a slew of writers and directed by “Beauty and the Beast” writer Kelly Asbury focuses on gnomes and love. Mixing Elton John music with a surprisingly workable plot, this film manages to marginally succeed.

The biggest victory here is in the jokes. The movie is actually funny. While the laughs are corny and sometimes painfully obvious, they manage to make the viewer chuckle. This is especially true in terms of veteran voiceover actor Jim Cummings. His portrayal of Featherstone, a friar-like representation in this film, really does wonders to make us find humor in rather familiar situations.

Where Cummings succeeds, so do most of the other actors in the film. Remarkably, the ragtag group of voice actors actually perform well. That’s a great victory for list of actors that include Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham and even Ozzy Osborne, who typically aren’t voice actors, but on screen personalities.

The animation is thrilling and actually bearable. Although it’s gnomes, the animation allows movie goers to really get into the characters on the screen. Vibrant colors and smart representations let the filmgoers to feel with the characters, something that a lot of current children’s movies are missing.

The only real drawback here is pace. Filmgoers may end up feeling like there are a lot of loose ends and not enough time spent to really progress the story. While characters change, they really don’t grow, a shocking and unexpected drawback to such a humorous film.

The music, as well, doesn’t really fit. Although Elton John supplied some of his best music for this picture, the remixes and the places of the songs feel out of place. His music really begins to draw away from the action on screen. Not only that, but certain songs like “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” are used so many times they just become boring.

Overall, this film is above average. It’s a good time despite its drawbacks. Audience members laugh, and children will enjoy this retelling of a classic story. This film’s worth a watch, even if it’s not perfect. “Gnomeo & Juliet” loves its way into a 3.5 out of 5.

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