Movies have been ripping off Shakespeare since before movies even had sound. Classic stories with relatable themes make for good entertainment. Most of the time.
When done well, they’re a homage to the great bard that can be spectacular, like with The Lion King – a retelling of Hamlet – and Romeo and Juliet starring Leonardo DiCaprio. But Gnomeo and Juliet stands out by completely destroying the classic story.
The plot needs no explanation; it’s Romeo and Juliet, but instead of Montagues and Capulets, it’s red gnomes and blue gnomes in separate back yards. The gnomes are at war with each other for no adequately explained reason and take turns pranking each other. The owners of the house hate each other as well, for the same unexplained reason, but the gnomes freeze in place whenever they come around, Toy Story style. When the blue hat Gnomeo, voice of James McAvoy, runs into the red hat Juliet, voice of Emily Blunt – they fall in love and it goes from there.
The story is filled with a disturbing number of plot holes, which add to the destruction of the classic. The biggest is that Gnomeo and Juliet both have parents in the garden. My only question is do the owners of the house get confused when their gnomes start breeding and thus increase their collection, or does the entire gnome community have some sort of madness from having to live in the same back yard and just make up families?
Another plot hole you can drive a lawnmower through is when Tybalt, voice of Jason Statham of all people, is smashed and killed. Afterwards it looks like Gnomeo is also smashed and the blue gnomes hold a little funeral for him. It’s hinted in the movie that Gnomeo’s father and Juliet’s mother are smashed as well, and hence the gnome equivalent of dead.
In the ending credits however, Tybalt shows back up dancing around, only glued back together. So if being smashed can be fixed with some glue, why does Gnomeo and Juliet both have dead parents, and why was it such a big deal when everyone thought they were dead in the end? There’s a fine line between saying “It’s a cartoon, just go with it” and just plain stupid.
A truly tragic part of the movie is manifested in a little ceramic deer on the red’s side. He’s just a minor character, probably not even in the play, but he’s voiced by Ozzy Osbourne. The Prince of Darkness is playing a ceramic deer in a rip off hybrid of Romeo and Juliet and Toy Story. Now that’s just sad. Patrick Stewart makes a cameo as a statue of Shakespeare and makes fun of the fact that they’re doing Shakespeare, but he loses a lot of credibility as an actor since he started regular appearances in American Dad.
The movie is supposed to be a children’s movie but there just wasn’t a lot of kids laughing in the theater at this one. Most of the cracks at the fact that it’s Shakespeare go over a lot of the kids’ heads, and there’s even a strangely large amount of adult jokes sprinkled in, like a gnome wearing a man-kini.
The Lion King retold Hamlet using subtlety and with an approachable adaptation. Gnomeo and Juliet just smashes the entire concept like a garden gnome dropped from a plane.
Gnomeo and Juliet is rated G since nobody really dies, including the bad guy, and it’s about as edgy as a soccer ball.