Gnomeo & Juliet mostly cheesy and safe

With a myriad of exemplary feature animation films emerging in the last few years, the bar was set high for Gnomeo and Juliet.

But instead, the cheesy pun for a title was backed up by an equally cheesy flick without much merit.

Along the same lines of Toy Story, these gnomes, along with the other garden fixtures, come alive as soon as their owners turn their backs.

The film is a remake of William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Romeo and Juliet, something that has been done hundreds of times before, but  never before with garden gnomes.

The film strays far from the original Shakespeare tale, but it is packed with allusions to Shakespeare’s work to validate its name and storyline.

The Bard himself even makes an awkward and out-of-place cameo as a statue to discuss with Gnomeo whether or not the movie should stay true to the play. Of course, Gnomeo thinks it should not.

The animation is a little behind our time with lackluster 3-D effects. The effects do enough to keep young children on the edge of their seats, but they do not match up to those 3-D giants Avatar, How to Train Your Dragon or even Up.

If this movie is still on your agenda, save your money and go for the 2-D showing, since there is not much of a difference.

Despite these flaws, the star-studded cast is a delight to hear. Actors James McAvoy (Gnomeo) and Emily Blunt (Juliet) are able to use their familiar voices and charm to draw the audience in. From Jason Statham and Ozzy Osbourne to Michael Caine and Patrick Stewart, the voices deliver and, though suprising, it is nonetheless refreshing to have these names attached to the project.

The music, however, reminded me too much of the oh-so-popular and memorable Lion King.

With Elton John serving as the producer as well as music director, one would hope to hear something more interesting.

Instead, the music is mostly John’s old songs reworked to fit with gnomes. There are a few new songs that are enjoyable, but not particularly noteworthy.

The film even showcases a star-shaped, glasses-wearing gnome to stress John’s appearance even further.

The film is somewhat entertaining. It was fun, but received few laughs from the young audience.

Mainly directed toward that younger audience, the film is packed with forced humor and reference to pop culture to appease teenagers and adults.

Line after line and reference after reference, this technique wears thin quickly and made the second half of the film not as good as the first.

For those animation junkies out there, the movie is still undoubtedly cute.

Expectations should be lower than  they would be when seeing the next new Pixar film. Just go in thinking you are going to see a happy-go-lucky children’s film and the night will not go to waste.