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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Gnomeo and Juliet a tragic ruin of original

By Joshua Knopp/managing editor

Juliet falls into Gnomeo’s arms as they compete for a rare flower just before falling madly in love.
Photo courtesy Touchstone Pictures

It is more than common for Shakespeare to be put into different aesthetics — but garden gnomes?

Gnomeo and Juliet (the word “Gnomeo” has been omitted from the rest of this article because it is being read by adults) isn’t as based on Romeo and Juliet as it sounds. With language modernized and the plot being nowhere near scene-for-scene, anyone who isn’t familiar with the love story (i.e., the target age group) might not realize how pervasive the film’s source material is.

Despite the silliness of the adaptation, the aesthetic of gnomes in a garden is translated with undeniable wit. Romeo’s duel with Tybalt becomes a lawnmower race. Montagues and Capulets become blues and reds. The houses insult each other by vandalizing the owner’s gardens. The owners themselves (whose mailboxes read Montague and Capulet) are minor characters who argue hotly, providing source for the gnomish rivalry in their yards.

These points of translation are the only clever thing about the film. Seven writers (that’s not counting Shakespeare and the writers he took from) wound up working on the final draft of the script, and it feels like the smashup that number implies. Between contrived musical numbers, inexplicable references to Shakespeare’s other works and jokes that just aren’t funny, the film just doesn’t deserve to be watched by anyone.

While the film tries to pay tribute, it does wind up butchering the play it’s based on. Romeo and Juliet have to die at the end. This is because Romeo and Juliet, at its heart, is a story about hatred and rivalries destroying lives. Yeah, it’s kind of sad. It’s supposed to be.

When Romeo, Juliet and even Tybalt spring back to life for a ridiculous musical number to close, the story loses all meaning. Omitting tragic aspects doesn’t make a film more kid-friendly, it makes it more kid-condescending.

[Omitted] and Juliet becomes, then, nothing more than proof that voice actors cannot act in an animated film. This movie features James McAvoy (Romeo), Emily Blunt (Juliet), Michael Caine (Lord Capulet), Maggie Smith (Lady Montague), Jason Statham (Tybalt), Patrick Stewart (Shakespeare’s gleefully sadistic statue) and Ozzy Osborne (Tybalt’s assistant). Just  watching, no one would know.

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