Who's In It: Voices of James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Michael Caine, Matt Lucas, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham, Ozzy Osbourne, Stephen Merchant, Patrick Stewart, Julie Walters, Hulk Hogan, Dolly Parton
The Basics: It's Romeo and Juliet, but made of lawn ornaments who spring to life when human beings aren't around. The red-hatted ones hate the neighboring blue-hatted ones, much like the Bloods hate the Crips, until blue Gnomeo falls for red Juliet. One of many differences: it lacks the satisfying suicide finale you were hoping for, but as compensation for cheating you out of the traditional cautionary ending, the movie delivers funny frog and flamingo sidekicks and insights into the little-known tendency of garden gnomes to be ultra-violent warlike creatures who are psychologically addicted to lawnmowers and Elton John sing-alongs.
What's The Deal: It's unlikely that you saw the justifiably buried 2006 animated feature Romeo and Juliet: Sealed With a Kiss. It was set among two rival clans of seals. When not fighting, these seals were full of terrible songs and shticky jokes. And it was maybe the worst cartoon feature to pollute movie theaters since 1970's Santa and The Three Bears. I'm telling you about that one to put this merely mediocre film into perspective, because as annoying and Shrek rip-offy as it is, it could have been a lot worse. You'll tolerate it (in fact, most of the funny lines are written with grown-ups in mind, aimed to soar right over most childrens' heads), your kids won't mind it, and you'll all forget about it as soon as you walk out of the theater and head to Chuck E. Cheese.
Impossible To Hate Thanks To: A committed voice cast, including an unusually funny Hulk Hogan and a leftfield Dolly Parton gnome cameo. There's also a funny bit with a talking Shakespeare statue who explains that the story is, in fact, a tragedy, only to be rebuffed by the revisionist ceramic protagonists.
Biggest Distraction: Elton John is the executive producer of this movie. And he's also responsible for the score, which consists of recycling chunks of his huge hit song catalog turned instrumental and orchestral, then strung together to provide an astoundingly distracting counterpoint to the gnome action. It all seems calculated to sell singles on iTunes, because when they're not pausing the story to sing entire EJ songs like "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart," the gnomes vroom around on racing lawnmowers to "Crocodile Rock" or fall in love to bits and pieces of "Your Song." There might as well be a bouncing live-action Elton John head at the bottom of the screen shouting, "ME! ME! MY MOVIE! I PRODUCED IT! DO YOU LIKE IT? HOW DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL ABOUT ME?!"
3D Or Not 3D: It's not used in any special way so it's pointless to spend the extra cash on the glasses-required version.