I can’t think of a film that blatantly gives up throughout its running time. The title Gnomeo and Juliet already establishes how much creativity is being put into this film. There is even a prologue when a little gnome says this story has been a million times before but they’re going to do it anyway. There is even a point when Shakespeare shows up to comment on how this all sounds very familiar and really urges his original ending.
So what is added to one of the most tired stories this side of A Christmas Carol? Toy Story. This is such a bizarre rip-off, the comparisons go beyond the basic premise. When the owners are away, all of the gnomes and lawn ornaments come to life and will freeze up again whenever a human is looking. Woody and Buzz always made sure Andy’s room was just as they left it, but these gnomes are perfectly okay about damaging the gardens over and over again. They even go as far as ordering an insanely expensive lawnmower to further destroy the lawns. But they still don’t want to be seen in a different position? There is no reason to even have humans in this movie.
There are two feuding families each with their own neighboring yard. They are named Red and Blue. Yep. That’s what they’re called. Is this a statement about the polarizing nature of our political environment or are they just cute colors? My vote is cast.
One night heroic Gnomeo (voiced by James McAvoy) enters the Red’s yard to act some sort of revenge. While he is out he stumbles upon Juliet (Emily Blunt) who is searching for a flower. They instantly fall in love and partake in the stalest banter this side of a Kate Hudson movie. But she’s a Red! He’s a Blue! This will never work out.
Once they meet the plot slows down considerably as they sneak away and partake in boring scenes usually accompanied by an Elton John song. They meet a flamingo who was abandoned in a barn and he recounts how his girlfriend was taken away from him. This story is told through a musical flashback…that is exactly like Jesse’s tale in Toy Story 2.
Despite being consistently groan inducing this isn’t offensive; it’s just an incredibly lazy film. Every pun has been done (“Kick some grass!”) and every reference is tired (“You’re going to swim with the fishes.”). It feels like a Jay Leno monologue. Even the action scenes are cut together in the familiar over-edited style that adds little excitement to the…lawnmower racing scenes. Whatever.