Oct 27, 2018
WOW! 300 EPISODES! I honestly can’t believe I’ve kept this podcast going for 300 straight days of movie reviews. Thanks to each and everyone one of you for your support over these past ten months. Without your constant support, I don’t know if I could have kept going a few times, especially with the insane number of Netflix Original films being debuted this month. I’m starting to think I should have picked a more significant movie. Anyway, it’s been a blast, and if you have any favorite episodes, let me know at onemoviepunch.com.
Today’s movie is “Gnome Alone” (2017), the Netflix Original animated film directed by Peter Lepeniotis and Shelley Shenoy, and written for the screen by Michael Schwartz and Zina Zafflow, based on a screen story by Robert Moreland, which was based on an original story by Jared Micah Herman and Kyle Newman. The film follows Chloe (Becky G), a young girl who has moved into a new house with a lawn full of garden gnomes. However, she quickly learns the gnomes are actually alive, and have a very serious mission, to protect the world from an invasion of Troggs, small eating machines that are never satisfied, with the unlikely help of her neighbor Liam (Josh Peck).
It’s been a good couple of years for Becky G, scoring roles in today’s film, “A.X.L.” from a few months ago, and becoming the Yellow Ranger for the 2017 “Power Rangers” reboot, not to mention her soundtrack work for “Hotel Transylvania” and “The Smurfs 2”. I’m not sure how she deals with all the success, but she has clearly made a name for herself in multiple industries. And if you like her music, then get ready to hear at least two tracks made for this film. But if you aren’t a fan of her music, or her career, then this film may not have a lot to offer anyone over the age of eighteen. Because while this film is great for Becky G’s career, it doesn’t actually offer anything new for the family animation genre.
“Gnome Alone” feels like a film based on an artist’s drawing, reverse engineering a picture of garden gnomes firing green ooze out of super soakers to take out tribbles in an old house. It’s almost the same way the story for “The Boss Baby” (Episode #012) was likely created, either inventing elements out of thin air, or creating loose connections between key scenes. Only in rare cases should you use lines like, “no one knows what it is or how it works” when making a film, and certainly not to explain why the green ooze works to send the Troggs back to their dimension. And let’s face it, you shouldn’t title a film based on one of the more popular Christmas films of all time, and fail to include any of those elements from that film. It’s been a while since I’ve felt a movie’s title was a bait and switch. I can’t help but feel the numbers of people involved in making the story also had a hand in limiting its cohesion.
In addition to a lazy script, the film has a standard 90 minute, three act structure, including seeding conflicts to be resolved later, and the heavy use of montage to move between the second and third acts. Now, is this film all bad? Not at all. The animation is well done, with a great overall style to the film, but nothing revolutionary. The cast does the best they can do with the story and script as it is, and the voice cast includes Tara Strong, Olivia Holt, David Koechner, George Lopez, and Jeff Dunham. And while the message was very strong about the nature of friendship, and the difficulties of moving as an adolescent, it misses a huge metaphor for consumerism in the Troggs, admittedly difficult messaging in a capitalist economy. Perhaps I’m thinking too hard about it, but it wouldn’t be the first time.
“Gnome Alone” (2017) is a fun family film with great animation, and a great voice cast, but also a few noticeable flaws and a few more missed opportunities. Young viewers will forgive the more technical concerns, but older viewers might struggle with the reused and simplistic themes. Fans of family animation films should definitely check out this film, but folks looking for something more should maybe take a look for something else.
Rotten Tomatoes: NR
One Movie Punch: 6.8/10
“Gnome Alone” (2017) is rated PG and is currently streaming on Netflix.