Sunday, April 10, 2011

Star-crossed breakable lovers

Like the toy characters in “Toy Story,” the garden ornaments populating “Gnomeo and Juliet” have secret lives of their own, but they’re not hoping to fulfill some purpose in their owners’ lives. Two neighboring clans are too busy squabbling with each other to concern themselves with other matters, until two of their members unexpectedly fall in love.

Inspired by Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the animated film “Gnomeo and Juliet” is a comedic and romantic romp, brightening up the classic tragedy with more kid-friendly variations on the characters and situations. Gnomeo, Juliet, and the feuding lawn décor families replicate scenarios from the source material, but this movie drastically changes its more depressing and pessimistic details.

Quirkily designed ceramic gnomes, plastic flamingos, and other garden fixtures have distinct textures and are animated vividly. While kids will easily understand the story, there are a few risqué jokes (one involving the frog and mushroom characters) that grownups might find funny. And while the threat to the main romance is rarely felt, this simplified and feelgood story satisfies the more escapist cartoon movie fan. It’s cute and predictable, but its consistent and inherent oddness also makes it worth seeing.

"Gnomeo and Juliet” opens April 13 in Metro Manila.

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