Gender Roles – WomenSelf-Esteem and Body Image
Room for Improvement:
Gender Roles – Men
Gender Roles - Women: 3 Stars
Juliet is an independent-minded young woman who is uninterested in living her life on a pedestal. She is unafraid of venturing out of the garden, despite the dogs and concrete and other dangers that await her. She plans to make her own unexpected contribution to the fracas with the blue gnomes, and to ensure that her father and the rest of the red gnomes finally take her seriously. To do so, she dons a perfect disguise and sets out on a secret mission, unaware that she’s about to meet a handsome stranger that will forever change the way she feels about the color blue.
Self-Esteem and Body Image: 3.5 Stars
Juliet is a secure and self-assured young woman. She isn’t looking to fall in love when she meets Gnomeo, but to prove herself as fearless and capable as the rest of the garden gnomes. It’s actually a bit disappointing that Juliet never gets a chance to enter the feud, as she clearly has her own ideas about competition and stirring up trouble.
Juliet is also a healthy shape and size for a garden gnome. She maintains the same simple dress and hairstyle throughout the film - with the exception of the unique disguise she dons during a covert operation to retrieve a shining orchid. In the original play by William Shakespeare, the two star-crossed lovers meet at a masquerade ball which conjures up images of satin gowns and dimly lit ballrooms - where a young masked couple is destined to fall in love as if under some curious romantic spell. In this modernized version, Gnomeo is smitten when he sees Juliet dressed as a samurai, performing martial arts moves in the glow of the moon.
Plot: 3.5 Stars
Although Juliet's story involves love at first sight, and being rescued by the gnome of her dreams, Juliet is far more engaging than your typical love-struck teenager. She even shows a bit more mettle than Gnomeo on more than one occasion. She isn't as afraid of revealing her feelings for Gnomeo and defying her family, whereas Gnomeo seems paralyzed by his conflicting loyalties. Juliet doesn't hesitate to come to Gnomeo's rescue after his fateful battle with Tybalt, and finds the courage to tell her father the truth about their secret love. Although the film misses a grand opportunity for Juliet to deliver an impassioned speech on love and reconciliation, Juliet does stand her ground and tell her father the choice she's made. That alone is a moment of recognizable strength.
Gender Roles - Men: 2 Stars
Gnomeo is a typical cool guy who antagonizes the red gnomes for sport and clearly values his reputation above all else. He’s a bit too macho to back down from the rivalry, even after he meets and falls in love with Juliet. He never reveals their relationship to anyone and struggles to find a balance between his tough guy image and his sudden soft spot for a sworn enemy. He does, however, respect Juliet enough to encourage her to embrace her sense of adventure, and never tells her she’s too delicate for anything.
Character Development: 2 Stars
Despite being a title character, Juliet isn’t given much personal development. She falls in love with Gnomeo and despairs a bit over her rotten luck, but she doesn’t spend much time trying to come up with a solution. She never proves herself to her father the way she intended in the beginning. She never has a serious moment of doubt about her decisions or an epiphany about the futility of the garden feud. In fact, the most important message of the film, that love is ultimately stronger than hate, is delivered by a talking flamingo, Featherstone. Juliet has enough personality to ensure that she’s more than a mere prop, but she isn’t as real or as memorable as she might have been.
Love: 3 Stars
While the two young gnomes fall hard for each other in only a matter of minutes, the fated couple does take some time getting to know each other in the following scenes. They even spend some time arguing - as people in love tend to do. While Juliet is clearly in love, she doesn't lose herself in Gnomeo to the extent that she is unable to see his faults. She's both hurt and angry when he sneaks into her garden to destroy her tulips and requires some convincing before she can trust him again. She is still loyal to her family of red gnomes and for a moment, she even wrestles with the hard reality that she may have to choose between her family and her new found love.
Family: 1 Star
The family relationships in Gnomeo and Juliet follow a clear and predictable pattern. Juliet’s father, Lord Redbrick, is overly protective to the point of actually gluing her to her pedestal to keep her safe. At the same time Gnomeo’s doting mother, Lady Bluebury, allows him all the freedom in the world, even encouraging him in his antagonism of the red gnomes. While this is a familiar set-up that is used to propel the drama forward, it reinforces the normalcy of these tired family structures. That boys are allowed to run about and explore, while girls should be kept safe at home. Juliet does, of course, disobey her father and seek out her own adventure, but it would be a refreshing change of pace to see a young woman who didn’t have to sneak out of a tower to make her mark on the world.
Friendship: 1 Star
The stock friendships in Gnomeo and Juliet aren’t much better than the family dynamics. Nanette, the garden frog that plays the role of Juliet’s nursemaid, teases Juliet about her forbidden romance - but they never have a serious talk about her fears or frustrations. In the midst of all the heartache that this feud has caused, it's disappointing that Juliet has no one she can turn to for true trust and support.
Similarly, Gnomeo’s friend Benny is more of a sidekick than a friend. They’ve bonded over lawnmower races and antagonizing the red garden gnomes, but they never share a heartfelt conversation. Benny and the rest of the blue gnomes even convince Gnomeo to attack the red garden, despite his feelings for Juliet. He goes along with the plan in order to please his friends and maintain his manhood, and in doing so, nearly douses the woman he loves with weedkiller.