'Gnomeo and Juliet'
Directors: Kelly Asbury
Starring: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham
Showtimes & tickets
Moviefone Mama Says: Who doesn't love a good Shakespeare adaptation ... even if the characters are garden gnomes and the ending is much more of a "happily ever after" than the Bard ever intended? This highly original production features some of Britain's best and brightest actors (and, OK, Jason Statham, but he plays the brutish Tybalt), as well as a hilarious cameo by Shakespeare himself (in the form of a statue). This is a great introduction to Shakespeare for the little ones, and it's especially perfect for parents who like Elton John -- because not only is he the producer, but his music is also the foundation of the score/soundtrack. So, if you like your tragedies on the lighter side and happen to enjoy the legendary pop songs of Sir Elton, this is a fun pick for the entire family.
Did You Know?: The voice of William Shakespeare is none other than Patrick Stewart, whom many Americans think of as either Professor Xavier or Captain Picard, but who is also one of Britain's most renowned Shakespearean actors, having appeared in more than 60 productions at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
3D Factor: There were a few funny 3D scenes, but if you want to spare your family the surcharges, you're not missing that much by watching a regular 2D screening.
Parent Concerns: This is a G-rated movie, and there's nothing overly upsetting in it. Even a character that is smashed to pieces is glued back together again in the credits. There are also a couple of mild British insults like "daft," "old cabbage," "codger," etc., but most kids won't even know what they mean.
Here are three talking points to extend your moviegoing experience:
1. Revenge of the Gnomes: The gnomes are quick to cry for vengeance when they are wronged. While it's a very understandable reflex to want to "get even," what are the consequences for Gnomeo and Juliet -- and their families -- when they attempt to destroy their neighboring gardens? What are some examples of other movies or stories where revenge goes horribly wrong?
2. Love Is Color-Blind: The ongoing feud between the Red and the Blue gnomes is rooted in a blind hatred -- in this case, perpetuated by the grumpy neighbors Miss Montague and Mr. Capulet -- and it takes a calamity to convince them that being friends is a lot more beneficial than being enemies. How does Benny, the pink flamingo, help the gnomes see the light?
3. Listen to This: This entire movie is one big tribute both to Shakespeare's most famous romantic tragedy and to producer/musical icon Elton John. If your kids are anything like mine, they'll keep humming the songs, so be aware if you aren't a big EJ fan that the score and credits all feature his greatest hits. After my family's screening, we came home and had a dance party to 'Your Song,' 'Crocodile Rock,' 'Saturday Night's Alright (for Fighting),' and my kids' favorite, 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart.'
Three to See: The British Are Coming -- English Tales
'101 Dalmatians' celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and features, as those of you following the FFG know, one of my all-time-favorite villains: Cruella De Vil.
'The Great Mouse Detective' is a classic tribute to Sherlock Holmes, except the detective is -- you got it -- a mouse, Basil of Baker Street. One of Disney's underrated gems from the '80s.
'Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit' is from the stop-action geniuses at Aardman Animations Studio. We think of W&G as a great intro to British humor.