Gnomeo & Juliet Movie Poster Image

Gnomeo & Juliet

Creative, much less tragic take on classic love story.
Popular with kids
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 84 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids will get an early lesson in Shakespearean drama.

Positive messages

When the gnomes really start to think about it, they realize that there's no reason for them to hate each other simply because they're a different color and live in the next garden. Gnomeo and Juliet prove that love is "color blind." The ending celebrates peace and unity.

Positive role models

Juliet in particular isn't willing to allow her family's overprotectiveness and closed-mindedness to keep her from exploring her surroundings or from acting courageously. Gnomeo pursues Juliet, even after he realizes she's a "red."

Violence & scariness

The red and blue garden gnomes have an ongoing rivalry, as do the neighboring houseowners, who constantly bicker and insult each other. In one scene, a gnome purposely breaks off another gnome's hat. In retaliation, the wronged gnome's friends drive the offending gnome against a wall, and he shatters to pieces. A gnome looks like he's been crushed by a truck. A dog chases and tries to bury a gnome. The gnomes fight each other in a climactic battle involving lawn mowers and other garden-wielded weapons.

Sexy stuff

Gnomeo and Juliet flirt, hold hands, and kiss briefly.

Language

Some mild insults and British slang like "shut up," "blasted," "daft," "codger," "old cabbage," and "loser." One use of "damn."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this Shakespeare-inspired animated comedy features some of the same overall themes as Romeo and Juliet, minus most of the bloodshed and the tragic ending. Although there's still serious enmity between the Montague and the Capulet gnomes, the violence isn't as prominent. A couple of gnomes do get smashed (or maimed), but most of the destruction is to the gardens themselves. Language is limited to insults and slang like "shut up," "codger," and "daft." Mature tweens who enjoy the story may be ready for the real play or more serious Shakespeare adaptations.

What's the story?

You're probably familiar with the basic story of GNOMEO AND JULIET -- since it's based on the most famous tale of star-crossed lovers ever told -- but this version features English garden gnomes. On Verona Avenue, two houses owned by feuding owners Miss Montague (voiced by Julie Walters) and Mr. Capulet (Richard Wilson) feature gardens that come to life with groups of equally adversarial gnomes, led by Lady Bluebury (Maggie Smith) and Lord Redbrick (Michael Caine). One night, when they're both in disguise, Lady Bluebury's handsome son, Gnomeo (James McAvoy), meets Lord Redbrick's lovely daughter. Juliet (Emily Blunt), and they form an instant connection ... until they realize they're from rival gardens. Skirmishes between the two families cause the "star-crossed lovers" to rendezvous in a neutral garden, where an old plastic flamingo Benny (Matt Lucas) helps them see that their love is stronger than the enmity between their gardens.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Young kids will love all the loopy gnome humor -- even if they don't get all of the jokes -- and it's a great way to introduce them to Shakespeare. The premise of the story may sound a bit off-putting at first -- Shakespeare's much-beloved tragedy via CGI gnomes? But, of course, that's what purists must've thought when they first heard about West Side Story, and that's one of the greatest musicals ever. So enter Gnomeo and Juliet with an open mind, and you'll find this adaptation quite original and amusing -- and equally (if not more) a tribute to producer Elton John as it is to Shakespeare. John's best songs -- including "Bennie and the Jets," "I'm Still Standing," "Crocodile Rock," and "Your Song" -- are all incorporated in the score, and the larger-than-life singer even recorded two songs especially for the soundtrack. The result is a familiar accompaniment to an even more familiar tale -- much like a Baz Luhrmann production for kids and parents.

Grown-ups familiar with Shakespeare's works will have fun noting all of the movie's Bard references (like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Movers, Tempest Teapots, and a line from Macbeth, to name just a few ) and watching the tragic tale transform into a comedy performed by some of Britain's finest actors and comedians. McAvoy and Blunt, it's obvious, are charming whether in the flesh or voicing animated lawn decorations.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what makes Romeo and Juliet such a timeless story. What's so fascinating about "doomed love"? What are some other movies loosely based on Romeo and Juliet?

  • Why couldn't the blue and red gnomes get along? Did the gnomes have understandable reasons for wanting to get back at each other? How else could they have solved their problems?

  • The William Shakespeare statue jokes that the original story doesn't end well; how did the filmmakers modify the ending here? Do you think it's OK to change a classic story? In this version, what motivates the two sides to come together?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 11, 2011
DVD/Streaming release date:May 24, 2011
Cast:Ashley Jensen, Emily Blunt, James McAvoy, Jason Statham, Michael Caine
Director:Kelly Asbury
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy
Run time:84 minutes
MPAA rating:G

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 6 and 8 year old Written bydano23 February 22, 2011

Adult themes in Romeo and Juliet just don't translate well to kids

I agree with some of the other reviewers that this was not an appropriate movie for all ages. Clearly that's what they were attempting to create, but I think they missed the mark by a mile. The problem for me with this movie is the same classic problem outlined in "Nurture Shock" (a great parenting book). While the film does its best to redeem itself at the end, the fact is most of the 124 minutes you spend in the theater are about destruction, hate and revenge. There's not even an attempt to show remorse or a second thought along the way. While this may be fine for the real Romeo and Juliet, kids take these actions at face value as they happen. (Plus my 8 year-old just about squeezed my hand off during a couple of the violent scenes.) While a couple scenes were funny (I did like the flamingo character), all in all I wish I didn't take my kids to see this one. And for that matter, when I asked them how they liked it, both of them just shrugged and said, "eh."
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Parent of a 3 and 5 year old Written bymistercooke February 21, 2011

Mature and violent story NOT for 5 year olds despite "G" rating

As a high school English teacher, I would use this version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet to introduce Grade 9's to the story before we explored the difficult language. But the story of Romeo and Juliet is, at its core, a tragic, violent story with plenty of sexual innuendo, and this version only makes these story elements cute -- it does not remove them. Therefore, a five-year-old accustomed to TV programs such as Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Dora the Explorer, which are completely devoid of stressful and confusing conflict or any mature situations now has to grapple with a gnomes flirting, calling one another names (such as "pansy" or saying "shut up"), trying to destroy each other, being destroyed, and fighting in a brawl. For example, the protracted final scene where it appears Gnomeo and Juliet have died was very intense and alarming for our five-year-old. Therefore, to put it more succinctly, this is NOT a G-rated movie and it is NOT suitable for "all ages" as the film rating suggests. The adults in the audience were howling with laughter while our five-year-old was, at times, unsettled, alarmed and deeply worried, and that's the point: at the end of the day, it's still a complex Shakespearean tragedy despite being portrayed by cute gnomes.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Safety and privacy concerns
Kid, 7 years old February 21, 2011

Hilarious

I think it is pretty awesome because it is hilarious! And it is fun because the gnomes are funny!