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Bard to the bone

Lawn statues take on "Romeo and Juliet," perhaps the greatest love tragedy in the history of the written word.  Not counting "The Hangover," of course.

Who says Hollywood is out of ideas?

Actually, with serious apologies to William Shakespeare, "Gnomeo & Juliet" isn't all that bad, especially if you're a kid and you're getting your first dose of Shakespeare and 3-D glasses at the same time.

For adults, though ... You know what, adults can enjoy this silly back yard, off-the-wall Shakespeare reboot as well.

Seven credited writers (Yes, seven and that's not counting Mr. Shakespeare) turn the world's infamous family feud into a stand-off between the Reds and the Blues.   They fight.  They sling insults at each other across the fence they share.

And they're all lawn gnomes.

Two of them, though, are in love.  And yes, Gnomeo (James McAvoy) is a blue and Juliet (Emily Blunt) is, at first glance, a dreaded Red.

I would have probably bailed on this vibrantly colorful silliness if Juliet had wailed from her balcony:  "Gnomeo, Gnomeo, wherefore art thou Gnomeo?"

Or maybe I wouldn't have.

Director Kelly Asbury ("Shrek 2") keeps things moving along.  The animation occasionally dazzles and the voice talent is top notch.

In addition to Blunt ("The Devil Wears Prada") and McAvoy ("Atonement"), Michael Caine is a hoot as Juliet's father, Lord Redbrick, and Maggie Smith (the "Harry Potter" movies) delights as Lady Blueberry.

"Gnomeo & Juliet" is a cinematic truffle.  Delicious in its foolhardiness for a while, and then tossed from the mind and forgotten.

But remember this.  When humans aren't looking, the gnomes out in the back yard might just be up to something.


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