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The one thing that makes animations a success is magic, it is hard to explain but the film has to come alive with abundant heart, the characters must hold your heart strings and the story has to mesh and not really try to be magical or funny – it will succeed or it won’t when the magic happens. The Toy Stories have it, Shrek 1 had it, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, WallE, Happy Feet, The Incredibles, Up all have this magic. They are forces of animation to be reckoned with – and Gnomeo and Juliet does not have this magic. It has moments of forced, and sometimes clichéd, humor and is animation by numbers – it has all been done to death before and did not hold my attention for its near 90min length. I found it overly cutesy with limited entertainment to keep adults happy. I can see 10yr old girls loving it – 10yr old boys will love the boy stuff like races on lawnmowers but the rest is too pretty and pink for them. It did have moments and characters I really enjoyed and is voiced by some big names but overly I had no love for the characters. James McAvoy plays Gnomeo and he does it OK but there is nothing special about Gnomeo, same for Juliet – I got excited hearing Emily Blunt’s voice but m’eh it really didn’t do much for me either – I did like her Ninja moves and wish they had headed more along this line. Likewise Sir Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, Hulk Hogan, Jason Statham, and even Ozzie Osbourne were all kind of flat and/ or underutilized. Most of Ozzie’s lines are in the trailer.The standouts that lifted the tone of the film were the Nanny – now a plastic frog that spurts water out of its mouth voiced by Ashely Jensen and the Friar – now a giant plastic pink flamingo voiced by Jim Cummings – these two lifted the flow of the film from mundane. I also found it very appropriate having Patrick Stewart (Capt Picard) voicing Shakespeare. The film is packed with numerous Shakespearean in-jokes. It takes place in contemporary Stratford-on-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace; a shattered gnome is put together with a brand of glue known as The Taming of the Glue; there is a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern moving firm; Gnomeo is carried away by a van for Tempest Teapots (ie. a storm in a teacup pun) and so on. Various lines of classic Shakespearean dialog (not just from Romeo and Juliet) make sporadic appearances throughout. I was expecting this film to be quite cute for kids, like most animations, but a quiet payout of Shakespeare and Romeo and Juliet for the adults – it actually opens doing just that and I got all excited hearing a little garden gnome saying “Before this story is this large introduction” He then reads about 4 lines of the opening of R&J and then says something along the lines of “Blah Blah Blah – let’s just get on with it”. But it kind of ends there. If you are a serious Shakespearean appreciator – avoid this film like the plaque – it changes most of the story and to the point it completely alters the story from a tragedy. But what do you expect – it is a kid’s cartoon. A statue of Shakespeare actually comes alive and debates with Gnomeo the merits of the story being a tragedy – I think the real Shakespeare would be turning in his grave . I think the biggest letdown for me with this film is that basically it’s a B Grade ripoff of Toy Story, although as opposed to toys that are really alive but do not allow humans to know, it is garden toys and animals. It is the exact same premise but wrapped in Romeo and Juliet story. For young kids this is fine as they can get a very VERY remote piece of Shakespearean education in some cute colors but for me none of the characters get even close to the likability of any of the characters from Toy Story plus R&J is one of my all time favorite stories and films (I love you Leo). There is some good music from Elton John spread throughout the film that lifts it a bit and while I did not watch it in 3D I could seem some scenes that could be good in 3D. Regardless of my thoughts – this film is made for young kids – and if it can keen your kids entertained for 90mins then its job is done. The film will be releasing on Feb 11th in the USA and Feb 17th in Australia. Worth 4/10.