Star-Crossed Lawn Ornaments Finally Get a Happy Ending in Gnomeo & Juliet

Here's one where funding probably came together based on the title and one-line pitch alone -- A 3-D (naturally), computer-animated comedy version of Shakespeare's classic with talking garden gnomes instead of people. And wait till you hear the title! Somehow though, I'm guessing that the titular characters don't kill themselves at the end.

The opening titles of the trailer immediately position the movie as a Toy Story rip-off, explaining that "when we're away, their adventure begins." You can probably guess where the adventure goes -- two garden gnomes from rival gnome-sects fall in love and try to cultivate their affection amidst fighting, puns and lots of wacky supporting characters.

Formulaic approach aside, it looks like Shrek 2 director Kelly Asbury spares us the nonstop pop-culture jokes that made Shrek sequels such a bummer. And a couple of the sight gags here are chuckle-worthy, particularly the one with the fish. Also, it "stars" James McAvoy and Emily Blunt, both of whom are talented actors that I'd like to see more from.

Still, the animation's nothing special and it's hard to get excited by a rip-off of the first Toy Story after last summer's brilliant entry in the series. But hey, it looks harmless enough, and maybe kids who thought the last Toy Story was too sad would rather get down with this one. A side note: Am I the only one who is more interested in seeing a movie about the two weird neighbors who both own this many garden gnomes?

Verdict: Pass.



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