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 fail to generate 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 overall lack of imagination is the real tragedy.
Watch the trailer