Gnomeo & Juliet
Director: Kelly Asbury
Stars: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt and Maggie Smith
What do you get when you start with the world’s most famous play, update it with a baseball team’s worth of writers taking inspiration from Shrek and Toy Story, spice the resulting masala with music by Elton John (classics and new tunes) and Lady Gaga, add a laundry list of well-known voice actors — including Hulk Hogan, Maggie Smith, Patrick Smith and Dolly Parton — then have the whole concoction processed at the Disney animation factory?
You get Gnomeo & Juliet, that’s what. The garden gnome version of Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy that somehow works better than it has any right to.
The painted ceramic version of the oft-told story is set in motion when spunky Juliet (Emily Blunt), wearing a crimson cap, meets and falls in love with Gnomeo (James McAvoy), a blue-hatted garden ornament. The two live in adjacent houses in a brightly rendered English suburb.
But the route to love is not to be a smooth walk down the garden path for these two. The obstacle? When the lawn-lost lovers meet they are both wearing disguises, so are unaware their romance is forbidden. They don’t realize they belong to feuding families whose antipathy extends to their respective garden gnomes. (In this family feud, old clan scores are fought with lawn-mower drag races instead of deadly sword duels.)
While this G-rated Disney offering is unlikely to be remembered as the apotheosis of the animation art form, at a blessed 84 minutes, Gnomeo & Juliet gets the job done right for the short set.