Gnomeo and Juliet | Movie review
Does this movie exist for any reason other than to capitalize on a bad pun?
A Disney toon seemingly born solely from a bad pun, this computer-animated trifle pieces together its Bard adaptation from the spare parts of superior Shakespeare-for-kids predecessors. In the neighboring suburban English backyards of the Montagues and Capulets (here color-coded in blue and red), pointy-hatted garden gnomes perpetuate the rivalry of their human owners. That long-standing enmity is disrupted, however, when rugged Gnomeo (McAvoy) meets feisty Juliet (Blunt) under a starry sky and sparks fly, all set to the sounds of classic Elton John tunes (whose appearance is as arbitrary and awkward as the story’s central clay-figurines-in-love conceit).
The narrative backbone of the playwright’s romantic masterpiece remains largely intact, but this Mouse House saga’s true forefathers are Pixar and DreamWorks—from the Toy Story–esque rule that the gnomes must revert to lifeless form when in humans’ presence to the Shrek-ish pop-music montages and line-dancing epilogue. Amid the courtship of its star-crossed lovers, a series of lawn mower chases, scuffles with bulldogs and high jinks involving a wisecracking Latino pink flamingo keep the momentum going, but even these sequences lack wit or verve; don’t get us started on the decidedly upbeat ending designed to please the kiddies. It’s a disposable cash-in designed to kill time in between franchise entries. The movie’s lack of imagination is the real tragedy.