Though a scant few scenes might have you laughing, Gnomeo and Juliet doesn't seem at all concerned with entertaining the adult audiences dragged along to the theater with the target group of small children. The juvenile humor and immaturity run rampant, as do several annoyingly hyperactive supporting characters, resulting in a tug-of-war between eye rolling and grimacing. Plenty of attention has been given to the texturing and detailing of the clay creations, though the mishmash of ceramic materials, squash and stretch animation, and clanking stone sound effects strains general acceptance as much as the rehashed usage of sudden immobility in the presence of humans (at least we're given the ground rules for gnome desirability: a rotund belly and a thick, pointy hat). With tired Matrix parodies, several bland character designs and a flamingo (voice by Jim Cummings, who reuses his own unique voice of Don Karnage from Talespin) and a frog that won't stop jabbering, it's quite likely you'll be begging for the end to come - and hoping it remains faithful to Shakespeare's original play.
It's love at first sight when blue garden decoration Gnomeo (James McAvoy) meets red lawn ornament Juliet (Emily Blunt). There's only one problem - they belong to opposing factions of a ceaseless feud between backyards. As the pranks and paybacks continue to escalate amongst the warring forces, Gnomeo and Juliet realize they must bring the conflict to an end if they wish to find true happiness and alter the tragic fate befallen their namesakes.
Gnomeo and Juliet started with an amusing pun for a title and just went for it - a feature-length animated movie with nothing more than a one-dimensional riff on a universally renowned play. Without interesting characters, situations or even creative jokes on Shakespeare, and armed with the remnants of a hobbled-together, terribly generic rip of the most basic love story, this half-hearted attempt at family entertainment is void of any screen magic. None of the pieces combine to make even the faintest form of fun; tragedy is included for the sake of staying reminiscent to the source material (and then promptly withdrawn), the romance is childish and the humor is hopelessly infantile.
There is no shortage of gnome jokes or goofy nods to Shakespeare, although only one rib is successful (and it's not the parody of American Beauty). Many of the physical gags are repetitive, pie-in-the-face monkeyshines and other stale attempts at obnoxious buffoonery, often accompanied by complex setups for completely unrelated material. Every supporting character struggles aimlessly at adding comic relief, most of which is tired and humorless, making the reach for laughs just that much more painful. If the lack of hilarity isn't enough to remind us of other utter failures in animation (such as Planet 51 and Battle for Terra), Elton John, who also executive produces, has stuffed the production with ill-timed, out-of-place songs that suck the life from every scene of whimsy and each already humdrum montage.
- The Massie Twins ( GoneWithTheTwins.com )