A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Gnome Alone is an animated story featuring ravenous, sharp-toothed monsters shaped like bowling balls who eat anything in their way, probably making it a little too scary for young kids. The Trogs bare their huge, sharp teeth and threaten to eat everything and everyone around them. They can't be killed, but they can be stopped by a specialized form of green slime. They wrap their teeth frighteningly around the legs of humans but for some reason never bite through. Two kids get tied up by gnomes, then released. Gnomes hit Chloe in the leg. Cell phone overuse is featured. There's a fart joke, and "poop" is mentioned -- but language is otherwise tame.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In GNOME ALONE, Chloe (Becky G) and her mom move into a creaky old house, which turns out to be a supernatural portal to a world inhabited by ravenous, man-eating bowling balls called Trogs. For what seems like thousands of years, garden gnomes have been guardians of the earth -- who knew? -- growing vegetation and keeping the earth safe from Trogs. Chloe finds a glowing green gem in the house. Unaware that it's the gnomes' keystone, a kind of kryptonite that keeps the Trogs from over-running the earth, she takes it to wear as a necklace, then immediately lends it to Brittany (Olivia Holt), one of the popular mean girls she meets at school. This unleashes thousands of Trogs, which the gnomes back at the house struggle to contain. For some reason, the gnomes, otherwise silent little statues, reveal their true selves to Chloe and enlist her in the battle to send the Trogs back through their portal. She must recover the keystone and return it to the house, but when that plan is foiled, she ventures through the frightening portal, from which no one has ever returned, to rescue her friend Liam (Josh Peck), who was sucked through it when the Trogs attacked him. She discovers a larger green rock from which the keystone broke off and, using her cell phone battery, blows the place up. Instead of solving the problem, this creates a mega-Trog that looks a lot like the big monster in Ghostbusters, which is also destroyed using a cell phone battery.
Is it any good?
The confusing, simplistic, and nonsensical plot seems to target 4-year-olds but the villains are far too scary for that audience. The Trogs are ravenous, sharp-toothed bowling balls who threaten to eat up the entire earth and everyone on it if they aren't stopped. The animation is fairly standard-issue and although talking garden gnomes are main characters (George Lopez voices one of them), their resemblance to Smurfs is unmistakable, robbing the enterprise of any hope of originality. Gnome Alone openly steals from Inside Out and, naturally, Home Alone as well.
The important question is: Will kids like it? That, too, is confusing. The lead character is a high school student, suggesting at least a tween audience, but it’s a good guess that the only self-respecting older kids voluntarily watching this will probably be babysitters overseeing the neighbors' frightened little kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how difficult it is to make friends for kids who have to move to new towns and schools. Chloe keeps telling her mother she's "fine." Do you think she's fine? Do you think she's angry at her mom for moving so often? How can you tell?
Gnome Alone tries to explain why the house is infested with man-eating bowling balls that threaten the future of the planet. Does the explanation make sense? Why or why not? Can you still enjoy the movie even if it doesn't necessarily make sense?
Who is the intended audience for this movie? How can you tell?
- On DVD or streaming: October 19, 2018
- Cast: Becky G., Josh Peck, David Koechner
- Directors: Peter Lepeniotis, Shelly Shenoy
- Studios: Smith Global Media, Netflix
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy
- Run time: 85 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some rude humor/behavior
- Last updated: November 12, 2019
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