Posts Tagged ‘ James McAvoy ’

Gnomeo and Juliet

Do you have yard decorations? A plastic flamingo here… and Yard gnome there… that funny frog fountain you got a few years back… Well if you do, there could be a huge inter-color war going on between your yard and the neighbors…

Well, maybe not. But in this movie, that is definitely the case.
There is one rule. If you are a blue gnome- you fight the reds. If you are a red gnome, you fight the blues. That is the way it is.
In this movie Disney takes a tragedy by William Shakespeare and turns it into a Toy Story like tale of the reds Vs the blues.Including of course; Gnomeo and Juliet.

Things I Liked

This story is about love and getting along. Albeit in a rather than unusual way… but the message is there. One of my favorite parts about the movie was a depiction of how divorce not only hurts the people married, but everyone around them. Many films nowadays show divorce a normal and acceptable way of life. This movie shows how much this action can hurt and what remains after the act.Although gnomeo and Juliet just met, they continually risk smashing (death) to save one another.

If you have watched alot of disney movies, you will catch many quotes and references from older animated Disney films. It was a very funny and enjoyable addition to the movie.

Things I Didn’t Like

The whole story of Romeo and Juliet was written with the premise they must hide from their families if they wanted to be together. This movie is no different. Several times we see both lovers lie about where they were, what they were doing etc. Juliet continually rebels against her father, and her father is shown as an overprotective worrygnome. Gnomeo is no better. He continually sneaks away from his mother, then lies about what he did or didn’t do. All of this is excused in the viewers eyes for the cause of “love”.When Gnomeo and Juliet meet, it is portrayed as love at first sight. Of all the things Hollywood comes out with, this idea sickens me most. The idea that “Love” is an uncontrollable emotion we are to be whisked away in a dreamland wind… is just as flawed as saying the moon is purple. We see throughout the whole movie they have a conscious choice to be loyal to their color. They plan to do so, until they see each other. Then everything goes dreamy and they can’t help themselves.

The majority of humor presented in this movie disappointed me quite a bit. There were lots of crude and toilet humor references… Which coming from Disney surprised me as that is more in Dreamworks’ department.

As far as violence goes there are plenty of near miss moments of smashing in the movie. Gnomes are made of cement, so there is plenty of clinking, chipping, and other threatening words… one gnome is smashed, quite dramatically too. There is also an intense push-mower race.Some other negatives include a  guy gnome in a thong type thing. There is a country girl gnome with tight clothes and revealing gnomish cleavage. Slang such as “junk in the trunk” and other innuendo references are used. A reference to infidelity was mentioned in a comeback line.

Gnomeo and Juliet clink lips. As far as swearing, the only thing I noticed was a poor pun attempt “Let’s go kick some grass!”.

Closing Thoughts

It is no doubt that William Shakespeare’s classic “Romeo and Juliet” was created without a biblical mindset, so is it any surprise that this movie falls to greater depths? We do see an honorable viewing on how fighting and relationships can damage others. There are some very funny one-liners. And there is something to note on giving one’s life for people you love.

But couple that with the Dreamworks like toilet humor , the considerable amount of unneeded sexual jargon, and overall unnecessary adult humor…

Avoiding this movie is no misgnomer to me.

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Gnomeo & Juliet

“The story you are about to hear has been told before. A lot.”

It’s the classic tale of romance and tragedy – two free-spirited youths fall in love, only to discover that they come from feuding families. Meeting in secret, the lovers are torn between tradition and happiness while their families continue to war. Yes, it’s Romeo and Juliet – only this time, it’s told with garden gnomes.

Gnomeo & Juliet is a light-hearted spoof that follows the exploits of two garden gnomes who meet from across the fence. Caught up in a battle between neighboring yards, the ceramic lovers face furious parents, revengeful friends, and lawnmower races in an attempt to find true happiness. Needless to say, it’s ridiculous and proud of it. Despite the silliness, it was a comedy I enjoyed, but it wasn’t quite innocent enough to be a favorite. Here’s why.

The Good

As is the case with the original play, the movie speaks out against discrimination and prejudice. When they fall in love, Gnomeo and Juliet begin to look past each other’s color and family history, and they ultimately force their families to do the same.

To help the lovers get over their differences, a sprightly lawn flamingo tells the story of how a divorce split him from his plastic mate. This sad tale demonstrates how the pain caused by divorce extends past the couple and affects the world around them, draining the happiness that was brought by love and marriage. The flamingo tells the lovers “Hate tore my relationship apart, and I couldn’t do anything about it. But you can.”

On a related note, the folly of revenge is revealed. Within the feuding families, certain gnomes are bent on seeking payment for personal wrongs. The relentless pursuit of revenge ends in disaster, even death, multiple times.

The Bad

As is to be expected, Gnomeo and Juliet’s forbidden love brings a lot of friction from their parents. The youths lie and sneak around without permission in an attempt to keep their romance concealed. This seems to cause more problems for Juliet than it does for Gnomeo. Juliet’s father wants to keep his “delicate” daughter safe, which means confining her to her pedestal in the garden. Juliet is less than compliant.

The movie also features a lot of flirty love. Besides Gnomeo and Juliet’s relationship, which can be excused, several secondary characters have unnecessary romances. Juliet’s friend exaggerates the tragic intrigue of Juliet’s forbidden boyfriend, and there are a few subtly sexual comments, such as the line “I am not illiterate – my parents were married!”

On top of all this, the movie is heavily smattered with crude content. Gnomes are dressed (er, painted) immodestly, a little crude humor is used, and some mild language is tossed around, including lots of insults.

Overall

In the end, Gnomeo & Juliet was a “just miss” for me. Its silly story was surprisingly enjoyable, with solid animation and goofy humor, but the list of negatives is rather long. While there was nothing extremely repulsive, there was just one too many smudges to make the film truly enjoyable. I’d consider watching it again, but you’re not missing anything if you skip this one.

Penelope

Penelope PosterOnce Upon a Time…

True to fairytale form, this movie starts out with a curse.  Perhaps what is not true to fairytale form is that this curse makes our heroine… less that desirable, aesthetically.

You see, when a hag’s daughter (she’s not really defined as a witch) is forsaken by her true love (or maybe not so true love after all), the mother seeks vengeance upon the aristocrat.  She curses the first born daughter of the Wilhern line with the snout of a pig, a curse that can only be lifted when one of her “kind” love her for who she is on the inside.  Not so sporting of her, is it?  After all, what did the baby girl ever do to her?

Fortunately for many of the Wilhurn heirs, they are blessed with sons.  Normal, healthy sons.  But the curse can’t be avoided forever.  Eventually a little girl is going to be born.  That little girl… is Penelope.

For 18 years Penelope is locked away within her luxurious home- pampered, educated, entertained- but very much alone.  Her mother faked her death when she was an infant and still has little to do with her even as a young adult.  That is until it is matrimony time.  Mother Wilhurn will not be strapped with this forever.  She is going to have a normal, pretty daughter.  No matter what!  So every blueblood on record is invited to marry the pleasant Miss Wilhurn- and oh yes, we’ll throw a very sizeable dowry in for the inconvenience.

Of course, Penelope is very intriguing to the bachelors who flock to her doors, and the money isn’t bad either.  What secret curse could this girl possibly have?  All interest flies out the window though (quite literally in some cases), the moment her face is revealed.

By the time the movie is underway, Penelope is not going to sit around waiting for Prince Charming anymore.  She’s done.  The heartache is painful every time they flee.  She has lost hope in humanity.  Then Max shows up, and a friendship blooms.  Hidden behind a mirror, Penelope gets to know the unusual young man, eventually trusting him enough to let him see her face.  While Max is startled, he’s not repulsed.  But when the proposition of marriage is thrown at him by Penelope’s mother, Max runs from the house; bitter and disappointed.  Maybe Max is more than he seems at face value, too.

 

Things to Truly Love

This movie is all about loving who you are on the inside, but unlike popular portrayals of this, the story goes one step further.  Accepting and embracing who you are on the outside, too.

Penelope struggles to find herself beneath the mask of her nose early on in the movie, but before we know it the pig snout no longer seems shocking.  In fact, it begins to grow on us, just like it grows on Penelope and the world around her.  We begin to love her, just as Max did, for all the beautiful and quaint things that define her as a person.  Perhaps the defining moment of the movie is when Penelope shouts, in defiance of her mother and the rest of the world, that she likes herself the way she is.

Something else the movie shows, which I found particularly poignant, was how our attitudes and feelings affect those around us.  Other people are more willing to accept you as you are, if you are willing to accept yourself.  When Penelope learns to embrace herself, curse and all, the people around her do as well.

Max is certainly no Prince Charming, but perhaps that is why we love him.  He’s a redemptive character who starts out on our bad side, seeking to exploit Penelope and sell her picture to a self-serving reporter (who also has a change of heart by the end).  However, as he gets to know Penelope, he chooses to cut his losses and pursue the girl, not the money.  By the end of the movie, Max has broken away from his gambling habits and trickery.  He’s reforming himself one day at a time, taking back the reins, so to speak, and trying to make something of himself.  But perhaps Max’s heart tells us the most about who the man is behind the down and out exterior.  He sacrificially gives up the woman he cares about in order to give her what she seeks.

 

The Curse

The parents in this movie are certainly disheartening.  The father loves his daughter, but is spineless and kowtows to the wishes of his wife.  The mother, on the other hand, constantly criticizes her daughter, masking the words beneath a masquerade of concern.  The mother does have one redeeming moment when she admits that her obsession with her daughter’s looks made her a very poor parent.  However, she goes right back to her old ways.  It is good to note, though, that the mother’s vanity and actions are never played up as being something to emulate.

I was concerned about the magic in this story when I first started watching it, but after the first 5 minutes it takes a backseat to the story.  What magic is portrayed is very fairytailish .  A curse is placed on an innocent, unborn baby, and that is about it.  In fact, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White have more than double the magic that this film has.  The curse placed on Penelope really is portrayed as just that.  A curse and not a spell.  So the magic was very casual and tame.

Sexual content is pretty subtle in this film.  The movie starts out with the story of an illegitimate child (the first “Wilhern” girl to be born, who actually wasn’t a Wilhern and thus did not receive the curse).  There is also an enthusiastic kiss at the end between the heroine and “prince charming”.  The only other references made in the movie are from Penelope’s intended.  He remarks about how disgusted he is at the thought of kissing her on three different occasions (never to her face).

Some parents will be disturbed by the fact that Penelope does eventually run away from home, but this is one of those situations where your own views on this will play into what you think.  The facts are that she is 25, her Mother wants to continue to put her through this unsavory situation in which she finds herself, and she does call home once she has left to let mummy and daddy know she is okay and loves them, she just needs to find herself.  However, some audiences will still view this as an act of rebellion, so it is worth noting.  I should also mention that she takes her mother’s credit card with her to finance the trip, until she is cut off and must find another means to produce income.

There is a wincing remark made by Penelope concerning committing suicide if her curse isn’t lifted.  It is said to Max, who is visibly bothered by the fact that she would harm herself to keep him from having to deal with her curse.  More than that I cannot say, as it would be a spoiler, but nothing comes of this remark and it is frowned upon.

Language is not nonexistent in this film, which was a downer.  There are 2 uses of the D word and the H word, and a misuse of the Lord’s name.

Alcohol is also portrayed in the movie.  As I said before, Max is a gambler, when the movie begins, and he is also a recreational drinker, not a drunk.  Max invites Penelope to visit the local pub with him, which apparently has the best beer on tap, which she must try.  Not surprisingly, this is one of the first things Penelope does when she leaves home.  In fact, Penelope tries to drown her misery in a number of beers and becomes drunk.  She pays for it with a headache.

 

The End

This film is a beautiful piece of art.  The sets and design is stunning and has a very old world theme.  In fact, my mom can tell you how much I salivated over Penelope’s outfits throughout the movie.  The movie is set in modern times, but is so fantastical that the use of modern conveniences and the appearance of Twinkies seem a bit out of place.

The movie’s crowning jewel is its heroine, who serves as a shining example to young women of what true beauty, and true worth, is.  Unlike many films today, Penelope is a positive role model, someone who has character qualities worth emulating.  That being said, winks at alcohol, sprinkles of language, and a tad bit of magic will prohibit some parents from letting their young ladies see this film.

As for me, this movie ranks as one of my favorite modern pieces, not only because it is captivating aesthetically, a fun ride, and has enjoyable characters, but because it has a powerful message.  Our identity and worth is not found in what people think about us, and that is the idea this film challenges.

Arthur Christmas

Arthur Christmas PosterIt is Christmas Eve and not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…

Tell that to the thousands of occupants at the North Pole.  If you think the hustle and bustle of the season is stressful, try preparing to deliver toys and stocking stuffers to billions of kids around the world in one night!  Just how does the fat man in the red suit do it?

Well, quite frankly, he doesn’t anymore.  At least, not the way we imagine he does.  From flying ships complete with cloaking devices, to naughty and nice scanners that only dish out the goodies if a child has a high enough percentage of goodness, the Santa operation has moved full throttle into the 21st century.  And it is all thanks to Steve Claus, heir to Santadom, the man who runs Christmas with the precision of a well oiled machine.

Amidst all this fanfare and automation though, the spirit of Christmas still glows.  It lives within the heart of Santa’s youngest son, Arthur.  Every year thousands of letters pour into the North Pole, and each year Arthur answers them, falling in love with each child.  Christmas isn’t a job to Arthur, it is life itself.

Yes, life is good amidst the negative temperatures and bustle of the holidays.  That is, until a child gets overlooked and family division sets in.  Steve says one child isn’t important in the grand scheme of things, but Arthur believes that every child is important, and he’s not about to let her faith in Santa be cruelly shattered.  It is up to him to save the day and get her that bike!  If only he was a Santa like Grandsanta, Dad, and Steve.

Christmas Cheering

Arthur isn’t an imposing figure.  He’s not extremely clever.  He is a bit naive and maybe just a little over the top, but this is what gives Arthur his charm.  His goodness and desire to bring people together sets him apart from every other character in this movie.  He doesn’t have super hero powers, he doesn’t have super human good looks, he’s not out to save the world.  He just wants to help one little girl with all his heart.  And he has a big heart.

Arthur is an unlikely hero.  He’s the underdog.  He’s compassionate, warm hearted, and good.  Is he perfect?  No.  But he desires to help others.

The Claus brothers respond very differently to the “technical error” of a little girl being overlooked on Christmas.  Steve sees a number, a statistic.  A .0001 percent error.  To Arthur, there is no such thing as “just a child”, and he’s willing to get out of his comfort zone in order to ensure no one is forgotten.

Unlike most Claus portrayals, this movie shows the Santa’s as being very human.  They not only don’t have everlasting life, but they are fallible.  Santa struggles to find when to step aside, and when to be an authority figure.  Steve fights with his own ambitions.  Grandsanta wants to prove that he’s still just as spry as ever and that the old Santa ways, Reindeer and all, were just as effective as this new fangled equipment.  Even Arthur must fight off his own demons.  Yet in the end, this family does come together, each learning to be content with who they are, and where their strengths lie.

Naughty, Not Nice

If you are looking to find the true meaning of Christmas in this movie, you’re not going to find it.  While the movie does show the outpouring of the true meaning of Christmas (compassion, love, goodness, sacrifice), it does not show the real reason for the season.  Christ and his birth are never mentioned.  The sacrificial gift of the season comes purely from the Claus family, and not from Bible.

Aside from the focus of the season being on man instead of God, though, the movie was clean.  Most of the violence in this movie is slapstick (someone runs into a tree and so on).  There is a scene with lions that include explosions and teeth, but no one is mauled and everything turns out fine.  Our Christmas pals also have a small run in with an old man and a shotgun, but again, nothing happens.

Language is a no.  The only bad mouthing you will hear in this film constitute words like stupid, idiot, ninny, and so forth.

There is also some jokes made by Grandsanta about “Knocking someone off”, and he tells Arthur to have the decency to finish him with a rock at one point.  Grandsanta also makes a reference to giving children a “dab of whisky on the lips” to keep them quiet, as well.

And to All a Good Night

I may be a sap for Christmas movies because I grew up with Rudolph and Frosty, but I know a bad one when I see it.  Arthur Christmas did not fall into that category.  It was a story that has the themes of a classic and the humor of a modern tale.  Its hero was the unlikeliest of choices-just a goof bucket who never wanted to be cool or titled like everyone else.  While the Christmas season should not crown Santa’s head, and children should understand the true story of Saint Nicholas, this movie was still fun to watch, and refreshingly clean.  How rare is that?

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