How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways, Gnomeo and Juliet trailer.
I, like every self respecting Hollywood-centric cinephile, like my trailers. Consequently, I rarely arrive in a cinema and see a trailer I’ve not already caught online, and will generally watch pretty much anything that appears on most prominent trailer sites. The first trailer on the list when I went to Apple’s trailer page last night was the trailer for Gnomeo and Juliet.
If you’ve ever read more than a few posts on here, you’ll know I’m not averse to poor puns, so I’m not going to criticise this movie for its choice of title. I do plan, however, to criticise it for just about everything else.
1. It’s clear from the off that this is a story about toys gnomes that come to life when no-one’s watching. Sigh.
2. The rest of us are trying to forget The Matrix’s very poor sequels, and indeed the almost unending list of follow-ups that reference them that have appeared in the intervening decade. If you can’t think of any better references than that, please don’t bother.
3. There is already a classic musical reworking of Romeo and Juliet, of course. So why did anyone think we needed another one, but with CGI gnomes in?
4. And if they thought we needed one, who possibly thought it could be improved with original and new music from Elton John? Original music maybe, new music possibly, but the two are so far removed that both will suffer from comparison to the other. (Actually, the answer to this question is most likely producers Elton John and David Furnish.)
5. The fungi / fun guy joke officially ceased to be funny in around 1971.
6. I did reel slightly when I started watching the trailer, as it sounded like Sir Michael Caine’s voice at the beginning. Surely he’s not lowered himself to this? Apparently he has. But he’s not the only one. But the cast list also includes Emily Blunt and James McAvoy as the titular duo, as well as Jason Statham (sob), Maggie Smith, Patrick Stewart (cont. sob), Julie Walters, Matt Lucas, Stephen Merchant, Ashley Jensen, Ozzy Osbourne and Richard “I don’t believe it” Wilson. It appears that so much was spent on the cast, they forgot to spend money on, you know, jokes?
7. Maybe it’s the writers at fault. However, one of them is Andy Riley, who has written the brilliant Bunny Suicides books. If the sheer mention of those names hasn’t sent you scurrying to Amazon, there’s something wrong with you. So what happened, Andy? Saving all the good stuff for the next book?
8. This does have the feeling of a Tesco value version of Pixar all over. Wait, what’s that? This was being produced by Disney’s animation division and then John Lasseter shut it down when Pixar took over? For the love of God, world, why did you not see that as a hint?
9. If you don’t sit through a poor quality animation trailer, expecting the words “IN 3D” to be thrust in your direction at some point, you need to manage those expectations. (It’s mentioned at around 1:51 in the trailer, in case you were wondering.)
10. On the subject of tired references that the world can do without, no-one in the world ever needed to see another Borat reference / a gnome in a mankini.
11. I could go on, but I’m sure I’ll have much more opportunity when Mrs Movie Evangelist drags me to see this next February. But unless anyone’s willing to spoil this in advance for me, it’s the only way I’ll have to find out if this really has the guts to see the Romeo and Juliet parallels through to the end. Y’see, kiddywinks, Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy. And not in the sense of dragging down the cream of British acting talent (plus Steven Merchant) and smothering it in Elton John songs.
If you watched that trailer and thought it didn’t look that bad, then I feel genuinely sorry for you, and would be willing to offer you a list of two to three hundred other animated movies I’ve seen that were better than this looks that you could spend your time on more productively. (This is also such an affront to Shakespeare I felt the need to paraphrase Elizabeth Barrett Browning in the title instead, just to give the poor guy a break.) Rest assured, though, if I have to sit through this and they don’t kill someone at the end, I may give it serious consideration.