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Gnomeo and Juliet (3D)


Stars: Voices: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham, Ashley Jensen, Ozzy Osbourne, Jim Cummings, Patrick Stewart, Julie Walters, Richard Wilson, Dolly Parton, Hulk Hogan, Stephen Merchant, Matt Lucas

Director: Kelly Asbury

Director Asbury is the man behind the wonderful Shrek 2 but, let's face it, there's only so much you can do with garden gnomes, even when you base their story on Shakespeare. The little fellas lack, er, well, expression and personality.

The best character here, in fact, isn't a gnome at all, but Featherstone, an ornamental flamingo voiced by Cummings, who did Winnie the Pooh and Tigger in some of their later featurettes. Featherstone talks la South American way, and has been parted from his pondly other half when the owners of his house split up.

The main story, though, concerns the feud between two sets of garden gnomes, the reds, bossed by Lord Redbrick (the rather-too-familiar tones of Caine) and the blues, ruled by Lady Blueberry (Dame Maggie doing suburban). The reds' enforcer is Tybalt (Statham), while Lady B's son Gnomeo (McAvoy) leads raids on the reds' garden, even as Redbrick's daughter Juliet (Blunt) scales fences and roofs to steal a blues' orchid, which is where the young lovers meet,

Shakespeare references abound - the removal men are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern - as six writers try all they know to keep the tale lively, culminating in the arrival of a 'Terminator' mower that has a mind (and legs) of its own, as it decides to decimate both gardens.

Jolly it is all right, but it lacks originality and character and, if you've seen the trailer you've seen all the moments that are likely to make you smile. Children? Iffy.

David Quinlan

USA 2011. UK Distributor: Entertainment-one (Walt Disney/Touchstone). Technicolor.
88 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 08 Feb 2011