Thursday, June 2, 2011

In which Trish watches "Gnomeo and Juliet", so you don't have to.

You know, it's hard to be an animation fan sometimes. Sometimes enough comments of "it's better than it looks" and/or sheer curiosity can backfire on you. And you wind up with something like "Gnomeo and Juliet" in your Netflix queue. And since you hate to send movies back without watching them, you watch it.

Well here's the thing, dear reader. This isn't just a bad movie. It'd be one thing if it were a bad movie, I could just dismiss it in one throw-away line in a post about something completely different if it were just a bad movie.

But despite what anyone in their right mind would expect from the trailer and (let's admit it) the title, this isn't in the same family of forgettable and easily dismissed bad movies as "Meet the Fockers" or "Valentine's Day" or what have you. No, "Gnomeo and Juliet" has turned out to be more along the lines of "The Star Wars Holiday Special" or "The Room". It is a
fascinatingly bad movie.

What do I mean by that? Well, take a look at this here cast list:

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And this list of song credits:

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And, above all else, this scene right here, which occurs a little more than halfway through the movie:

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Ye Gods.

Hell, I love that screenshot. You know why? Because that screenshot says everything I could ever need to say about "Gnomeo and Juliet".

You may remember a little less than a year ago, I wrote a post about this movie that was almost entirely prompted by my disbelief that somebody actually sat down and made it. Long story short, this was a project that was pitched at Disney sometime after "Dinosaur" and "Home on the Range" and other Disney movies that probably never even got to go in the Vault. The studio was pretty desperate for another hit. So they almost made a movie where nonhumans sing Elton John songs in a very loose adaptation of a Shakespeare story. Again.

The project was scrapped years and years ago. However, last autumn, it mysteriously actually got made somehow by (according to what little I can learn from IMDB) the studio that gave the world "Space Chimps". It turns out, according to the making-of featurette on the DVD, Elton John loved this movie too much to let it die.

And so, in 2010, we got ourselves an animated film full of gags that only could have been pitched during the exceedingly specific time in history where a movie in which gnomes sing Elton John songs would have actually not been a wholly terrible idea. Thus the "American Beauty" reference pictured above. And a scene where a character does an impression of Borat. And a good old-fashioned scene where the Internet behaves like it has never ever done in anything resembling our reality.

But maybe the strangest part of this movie is the fact that the animators went all out with it. My gosh, the gnomes are adorable and the little details are stunning (if only because it's a shock to see such things in a movie like this). They've got little grass stains and moss and chips and dings and hand-painted flaws. The ivy and rhubarb plants have little veins and discolorations. Hell, this is one of the best-looking bad animated films I've ever seen.

(And as God as my witness, I wish I could say this was the only fascinatingly bad kiddie-oriented "Romeo and Juliet" adaptation I saw this year. Alas...)

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This article showed up in my feed via a toy collecting blog I like and...

Fellow Art Evolved-kateers, this is what we are fighting. I was ready to cry. (And the comments... Dear God, the comments...)

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Sketch Photograph of the Day! Just to show I have lost no love for gnomes.

5.26.11 - The Garden Gnome in his natural habitat

This also reminds me: it's been a while since we had a gardening post hasn't it?

2 comments:

Zach said...

While I was in the ICU, my wife and I attempted to watch this pile only to turn it off shortly after the frog scene you reference above. Nothing about the film works, and I struggle to understand how anything besides private funding (possibly from Elton himself) got it made and distributed.

palaeontologicalinsanity said...

I agree with your statements on Gnomeo and Juliet, as well as your exasperation on that dinosaur toys link. FFS, why does the pop culture mill seem to think that the "Toroceratops" hypothesis is widely accepted and set in stone?