Follow us on

Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Gnomeo & Juliet

May 21st, 2011

Gnomeo & Juliet - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack, or 3D Blu-ray / Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack

Gnomeo & Juliet opened earlier this year with rather limited expectations, and smashed said expectations. (Although, to be fair to me, I did say there was a chance it would do as well as Meet the Robinsons, and it did.) So was the success warranted? Or did it simply benefit from a nearly complete lack of competition.

The Movie

Gnomeo & Juliet is based on the William Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet, but you probably figured that out already. This does present a bit of a problem for critics trying to describe the plot, as the story itself is so famous, that there's little that needs to be discussed, outside of the differences between this film and its source material. Of course, many of these differences are spoilers.

Let's start at the beginning, Gnomeo & Juliet takes the story of Romeo and Juliet and sets it in the world of Garden Gnomes that belong to Mrs. Montague and Mr. Capulet, who live in the different halves of the same duplex. Mrs. Montague's blue gnomes and Mr. Capulet's red gnomes share in this rivalry. They throw insults, and snails, at each other. They compete over who has the best garden. They race lawnmowers in the alley.

It is during one of these races between Gnomeo and Tybalt that the latter cheats, forcing the Gnomeo to get revenge that night. Earlier in the day, Juliet had spotted a rare flower and hopes to retrieve it so she can not only make the Red Gnomes' garden better, but also prove to her father that she's not delicate and can take care of herself. Of course, while the two are on their respective missions, they meet and it's love at first sight, till they realize one's a Red and the other's a Blue. Of course, while these two are falling in love, their parents, Lord Redbrick and Lady Bluebury, are escalating the war between the two sides.

Will love be able to survive? Well, it is a G-rated Disney movie, so you shouldn't expect quite as many deaths as in the real play, but any details more than that is getting into unacceptable spoiler territory.

So how is Gnomeo & Juliet? I will admit that it is rather cute, but be warned, this is both a blessing and a curse. The film itself is based on a pun, and there are quite a few jokes on that same level. For instance, the address of the suite Mrs. Montague lives in is 2B, so naturally Mr. Capulet's mailbox has the 2B on it, but it's crossed out. "To be or not to be." I will admit, that joke made me smile, but there are a few too many self-referential joke to be found in the movie, too many jokes that will make fans of William Shakespeare smile, as opposed to laugh out loud.

The film does have an impressive voice cast and the filmmakers went out of their way to get the little details right. The gnomes look like weathered ceramic while they also make a "tink" sound when they touch, like you would expect ceramic on ceramic contact to sound like. The music is excellent, but keep in mind I've been a fan of Elton John's music for a long, long time. It adds up to a good movie, but one that is far from great. On the other hand, if a G-rated kids movie can make a middle-age critic smile, then it will likely entertain its target audience.

The Extras

The extras on the DVD include a six-minute making of featurette, Elton Builds a Garden. Frog Talk with Ashley Jensen is a 2-minute featurette on the performance of Ashley Jensen, who played Nanette, the talking sprinkler frog. And finally, there's a music video for "Crocodile Rock". That's not a lot of extras, so I would rate this version as a rental.

The Blu-ray has a couple exclusives, including The Fawn of Darkness, which is like Frog Talk, only dealing with Ozzy Osbourne's performance. Finally, there are more than 45 minutes of deleted and alternative scenes, including two alternate endings, presented in storyboard form. The running time includes intros by Kelly Asbury, the director. It also comes with the DVD, but costs a little bit more than I would like, but it is still the better deal.

On the other hand, the 3-D Blu-ray Combo Pack is the same price as the regular Blu-ray combo pack, at least it is on So if you have made the leap, or are planning too, it's the best deal of all. (Although I don't have a 3D TV yet, so I can't comment on the quality of the 3D effects.)

Looking at the video and audio presentation, they are both amazing. Like nearly all digitally animated movies, going from the purely digital source to a digital end product results in amazing details, bright colors, deep blacks, sharp contrasts, and of course there are no flaws in the print. The 7.1 audio track it good, but not top of the line. The dialogue is clear, but the overall audio track is not as immersive as I would like. For a film that's so dependent on music, I was expecting the rear and side speakers to show up more. It's not bad; in fact, it's a strong selling point, but I was hoping for a little bit more.

The Verdict

It has long been my opinion that the very best kids movies are the ones aimed at adults that kids can enjoy. Gnomeo & Juliet is not quite that good. On the other hand, it is certainly better than expected and should entertain the little ones, while their parents will get more than a few laughs. (Not to mention a hit of nostalgia thanks to the music.) The weak selection of extras means the DVD is best suited to renting, while if you are interested in buying, the 3D Blu-ray / Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack is the better deal over the Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack.

- Submitted by:

Filed under: Video Review, Gnomeo and Juliet