The film starts with an intro stating that this is simply another retelling of the classic Shakespeare tale, but it is very different.
In the city of Stratford, there are two huge houses on Verona Drive that are adjacent to one another. The house on the left is owned by Mr. Capulet, and it is entirely red with a nautical theme, including a series of flags that spell out "CAPULET. "The other house is owned by Miss Montague, and it is all blue. On the mailboxes, there are 2 signs: Ms. Montague's with 2B on the blue side, and Mr. Capulet's Not 2B on the red side. When the squabbling owners drive off, almost crashing in the process, the weather vanes of each house signal to the gnomes in the gardens that they can come out and play. One of the Blue gnomes flings a snail to the other side, making it plummet into a snoozing Red's mouth. Lord Redbrick, leader of the Reds, goes over and peeks in the peephole and sees Lady Bluebury, leader of the Blues, and they exchange some barbs.
Lady Bluebury's son, Gnomeo, and his friend, Benny, pull out a lawnmower, and it's obvious they are up to something. Lady Bluebury calls Gnomeo over. Not wanting to get in trouble, he runs over and tries to distract her, but she knows he's up to something and winks at him, telling him to "go out there and show them that we Blues are better than any Red."
On the other side, Lord Redbrick's daughter Juliet climbs a tree to look at the roof of a greenhouse across the street. There is a special flower, a cupid's arrow orchid, growing at the top, and she thinks that if she can get it, it will make their garden beautiful and will give the Red gnomes an edge over the Blues. Then, Lord Redbrick calls for her, and she is startled and almost falls but lands relatively gracefully (compared to the flowerpot that fell before her and was smashed). He freaks out and admonishes her, but Juliet is annoyed at the insinuation that she's delicate and helpless, and Nanette agrees, saying that Juliet is definitely not delicate. Juliet figures she'll prove that she's not delicate by retrieving the flower.
What Lady Bluebury was referring to earlier is revealed, as we see Gnomeo and Tybalt of the Red side going against each other in a race using lawnmowers in the alley beside the houses. The rules are, basically, don't cheat, but Tybalt does so anyway, throwing a pipe at Gnomeo's lawnmower, causing it to run into the street and break. After Tybalt reaches the finish line, Fawn praises him before Benny accuses Tybalt of cheating. Tybalt just laughs and kicks Benny before his mower is pushed back into the red garden by a collective of other Reds. The blue gnomes that were watching are furious, and Gnomeo launches a plan to sneak over to the Red side to sabotage Tybalt's mower. At night, Gnomeo and Benny prepare to sneak in. Gnomeo has covered his blue hat in mud and his face in dirt streaks and is dressed stealthily, and Benny goes dressed as a sunflower with a can of rattling spray paint strapped to his back. Meanwhile, Juliet is planning to sneak out to get the flower. Nanette helps her find an outfit that will disguise her. After an attempt involving a florescent pink sock with green polka dots, they settle for a black sock that covers her entirely, with eye and armholes. Juliet also takes the fishing rod from a gnome that was shown fishing in the beginning of the film and uses it to unlatch the gate.
All the gnomes are sleeping except for some on the Red side, including Fawn and the little red gnomes who are sitting around a table playing a game. Gnomeo and Benny make it through, even though Benny's spray can makes rattling noises every time he moves. Gnomeo reaches the garage and sees the red lawnmower, but when he turns around, Benny has sneaked over to Tybalt's wishing well well and is spraying graffiti on it. Gnomeo watches as he loses his grip on the bottle, and it hits a laser and alerts the Reds. Gnomeo and Benny make a run for it. Gnomeo uses a hose to shoot Benny to the other side, but now he himself is stuck. Gnomeo is about to fight Tybalt on top of the boat in the red garden, but are foiled by Mr. Capulet, who opens the curtains to look out into the garden. Gnomeo manages to get hold of a pair of Mr. Capulet's underpants and parachutes away with them.
Gnomeo lands in a patch of grass and is not sure where he is. He sees a figure dart across the brick wall and is entranced, running alongside to follow her. Juliet, who is very agile, reaches the top of the greenhouse and is about to take the flower, when Gnomeo, who followed on the other side, reaches for it, too. They don't recognize each other because they're both in disguise. She apologizes, but when she realizes that he isn't a gnome from the greenhouse garden, states that the flower is hers. They start playing catch and grab with the flower, playfully swinging from the pipes and panes. They eventually land on a small log in the middle of a pond. They both hold the flower and are about to pull in for a kiss when the log collapses and they fall into the water. Underwater, their disguises are washed away, and they see that they are enemies. Juliet freaks out and runs away, and Gnomeo tries to follow her and is almost caught by Tybalt patrolling. Juliet, still nervous, covers for Gnomeo and says that she didn't see anyone, which makes Gnomeo gain a certain trust for her. In this scene, Gnomeo and Juliet learn each other's names thanks to Tybalt mentioning them.
Juliet returns to her little pedestal/tower and Nanette sees that she doesn't have the flower. She figures out that Juliet has met a boy, based on the way Juliet is acting. Juliet reveals that he's a Blue and Nanette instantly reacts dramatically to the doomed nature of their relationship. Later that night, Gnomeo sneaks back to the Red side, while they are still on high alert from the intrusion, and finds Juliet. She tries to get him to leave, but he wants to talk. Gnomeo accidentally steps on a switch that activates Juliet's tower, beaming out lights and blaring music. Lord Redbrick runs over to tell her that there was no music allowed in the grotto after ten o'clock, and Gnomeo barely manages to escape with Nanette's help. After steering her father away, Juliet checks through the top of the fence to see if Gnomeo is okay. His head pops up on the other side, and he gives her the flower that she wanted. She takes it, and they are about to kiss but their heads get stuck. They agree to meet the next day at the old Laurence place at 11:45.
The following morning, Miss Montague wakes to see the ruined lawnmower, and Mr. Capulet sees the graffiti on the well. Each instantly blames the other. Ms. Montague stomps inside, saying she's going to buy the best lawnmower money can buy, which makes Benny raise his hand and grin when he hears it. He spies on Miss Montague while she visits a lawnmower purchasing site on her computer. A popup for the Terrafirminator V.O., a lawnmower that resembles a small monster truck, makes Benny giddy, but he is disappointed when Miss Montague settles for a cutesy Kitten lawnmower named the Kitten Clipper instead. When Mr. Capulet disappears, Tybalt talks to Fawn and the little red gnomes and they plan to take revenge by destroying the wisteria plant growing out of a toilet in the Blues' garden (the Blues' pride and joy, a flower that Lady Bluebury and Gnomeo's deceased father had raised from a seedling).
It is time for Juliet and Gnomeo to get ready for their little date, jazzing themselves up in ways only a gnome can. About to step out, Juliet gets sidestepped by her father introducing her to Paris, a fast-talking nerdish gnome who is fascinating by botany. She distracts him with Nanette (who finds him adorable) and slips off. Gnomeo and Juliet meet up and are excited to see each other, but unused to their freedom. They find a very old lawnmower that Gnomeo can't start up, so they try to find some gas in an old shed. They pick the lock with a long stick and open the shed, realizing that someone else is in there. They are scared, but it is just a pink flamingo lawn ornament who introduces himself as Featherstone, and says that the stick Gnomeo picked up is his other leg. He has been locked in there for 20 years and is very excited to be outside again and to have people to talk to. They manage to start the lawnmower, and Juliet has a great time being free and riding it, using it to create a design in the grass that has "G+J" inside of a heart. They lie in the grass and talk until they have to go. They arrange to meet at the same time the next day.
Gnomeo returns home, smitten. His pet, Shroom, runs up to him, and Gnomeo realizes something is wrong. He goes to the main garden to see that the wisteria is gone. All the gnomes are sad and Lady Bluebury is crying, as Gnomeo's father had planted the wisteria before he died. She asked Gnomeo where he was, and Gnomeo says he was nowhere and begins to feel immensely guilty. The Blues are riled up, and Benny asks Gnomeo to lead the counterattack that would devastate ALL the Red gnomes. Gnomeo immediately thinks of Juliet.
Meanwhile, Paris is trying to serenade Juliet, but she isn't interested. Nanette, however, develops a crush on Paris. Juliet looks off to the side and sees the flat stone hippo ornament twitching, with Gnomeo's hat beneath it. Excited, she runs down. Gnomeo, who is trying to carry out the attack, props the hippo's mouth up and leaps over to aim his weed-killer blaster at the Reds' prized tulips when suddenly Juliet is in his crosshairs. She's scared, then realizes what he is aiming at and storms off. He tries to call after her but has no time, and jumps back down the hippo's mouth. With her mouth free, the hippo yells out, and the Reds are alerted. At the bottom, Benny asks what happened, and Gnomeo claims that the gun jammed. After Gnomeo leaves, Benny shoots the gun and sees that it is fine. Tybalt sees this through the hole in the wall and suggests to his cronies that they go out into the alley for a "smashing time."
The next morning, when Gnomeo and Juliet meet up, they argue. Gnomeo asks her to understand, and Juliet states that this is just like Blues, which starts up the Red/Blue feud between them. Featherstone doesn't like them fighting and tries to interject, but they both lash out at him. Hurt, he apologizes and says that he knows he talks a lot, but he just likes having such great friends for once. He walks off. Gnomeo and Juliet feel guilty and try to call him back. They go into the shed and see a lot of clippings about a house being sold. (One clipping includes a ticket to Much Ado About Nothing.) We see a montage of what happened to Featherstone in the past: He and his love were a matched set of flamingos. They spent time in the front garden of their owners, who were a happily married couple. But soon, the human couple began fighting, culminating in them splitting up and selling the house. The wife took Featherstone's love away in a moving van, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Movers, and the husband tossed Featherstone in the shed. The house eventually became run down, and the formerly beautiful garden became full of overgrowth.
Gnomeo and Juliet feel even more guilty. Featherstone shows up and says that other people's hate destroyed his love, and he couldn't do anything about it, but Gnomeo and Juliet can. They reconcile, and Gnomeo asks Juliet to stay here, in the old Laurence place, with him and they can start over and build a garden together. Juliet agrees.
Benny, who has grown suspicious of Gnomeo, follows Gnomeo to the greenhouse garden and sees the two together when they are about to kiss. Benny yells and runs out into the alley. He crosses over to get back to the Blue side, and Gnomeo tries to stop him. Tybalt spots Benny and goes after him. Eager to spot a stray Blue after the recent intrusion, Tybalt races after Benny on his lawnmower with a shovel in his hand. He uses the shovel to slice at Benny, shearing his hat off. Benny sits down in shock, touching the spot where his severed hat once was. Gnomeo gets mad and runs after Tybalt, leaping onto his lawnmower and fighting him with a pipe as the mower continues to race down the alley. Gnomeo knocks his trowel away and is about to hit him with the pipe when Tybalt asks if Gnomeo would really hurt an unarmed gnome. Gnomeo falters and Tybalt brakes to get leverage on Gnomeo. Gnomeo warns him about a wall in front of them. Tybalt laughs it off as a trick, but Gnomeo slides away from the lawn mower in time to see the mower trip against a dirt hill and Tybalt fly off and smash into the wall.
All the noise has drawn the gnome inhabitants to see what's going on. The Reds see the smashed bits of Tybalt and start advancing on Gnomeo. Lord Redbrick is shocked when Juliet hands Gnomeo the pipe back so he can defend himself from the stones that the little red gnomes are launching at him. Gnomeo is chased onto the street, and he is on the edge of traffic when a jogger approaches. The gnomes instantly freeze, and the jogger freaks out when she turns the corner to see a crowd of gnomes. She slowly steps away and knocks Gnomeo over, dropping him onto the street. He is still in his gnome state and is frozen in the middle of traffic as the other gnomes watch. A truck comes by and there is a loud sound of breaking pottery, and the gnomes are shocked to see a pile of blue chips on the ground where Gnomeo was. Juliet cries and all the gnomes return to their yards, subdued, stating that there has been enough smashing for one day. Lord Redbrick orders for Juliet to be taped to her pedestal (even though they end up using glue). Shroom stays behind and discovers that the bits of blue are actually a broken teapot that fell off a delivery truck for a company named Tempest Teapots. Gnomeo, who has survived, jumps from the truck's grille and lands on the street, waving happily to Shroom. However, a bulldog grabs Gnomeo in his mouth and runs away. Shroom instantly runs off to try to get help.
Lord Redbrick has Juliet glued to her pedestal by the collective of small red gnomes using a brand called "Taming of the Glue," stating that he doesn't want to lose her like he lost her mother, and Juliet turns her back on her father in disgust. Benny, wanting to exact revenge for Gnomeo, is too focused on devising a plan with the bunnies to listen to Shroom's pleas. He sneaks into Ms. Montague's house when she leaves and accesses her laptop, cancelling the Kitten Clipper purchase and buying the Terrafirmator 4.0 on 1-hour rush delivery, almost getting caught in the process. While Benny is there, he meets a porcelain doll who tells him to call her. Shroom enlists Featherstone's help to find Gnomeo.
Gnomeo manages to escape the dog but then has to hold still as a garden gnome when some kids find him in a local park. They play catch with Gnomeo as the ball, and he eventually ends up on the top of a statue of Shakespeare's head. Shakespeare tells him the ending of Romeo and Juliet, which appalls Gnomeo. He falls off the statue due to his broad movements and is caught in the nick of time by Featherstone, who said that Shroom sniffed him out even without a nose. Gnomeo finds out from Shroom that Juliet's in danger, and he races home on Featherstone's back. Shakespeare continues to make jokes, relating Gnomeo's situation to the original story of Romeo and Juliet and how they would both end up dead in the end. Meanwhile, the Terrafirminator has arrived, and the Blues are ready to activate it. Benny, manning the huge lawnmower, gets approval from Lady Bluebury and crashes it through the fence that splits the two yards and wrecks almost everything on the Reds' side. He then loses control of the vehicle, and it runs through the Blues' side until it gets stuck in a ditch. The Reds rally and race forward to fight back. Fierce tomato and blueberry catapulting and whacking from miscellaneous garden tools commences. Paris and Nanette help each other out during this short strife. Juliet remains at the tower, as Juliet can't move because her feet are glued down. Gnomeo scales the fence and heads for Juliet, who is elated to see he is alive. The Terrafirminator has acquired a target fixed on Juliet and is revving the engines. Gnomeo tries to get the glue off Juliet, but he can't. By now, the lawnmower gets free and races through the yard and has everyone's attention, and they see that Gnomeo is alive and on the pedestal with Juliet. The Terrafirminator soars into the air, heading for the tower. Everyone is shocked as they see the couple struggle to get free. Juliet tells Gnomeo to go, but he won't leave her. The Terrafirminator collides with the tower, and there is an explosion in the garden, and it cuts to the Shakespeare statue seeing the explosion from a distance, to which he responds, "Told you so."
When the dust and rubble clear, gnomes from both sides approach the tower to see if the couple have survived. They see an arm pop up, but it is just the red mankini gnome. Lord Redbrick and Lady Bluebury, in shock, walk up to the tower together. They are grief-stricken, and each tells the other they are sorry they lost a child. They then simultaneously realize that all this was their fault, and state that the feud is over. Everyone begins to walk away when Redbrick accidentally hits the power button for the pedestal, causing the platform that Gnomeo and Juliet were on to elevate. Gnomeo's arm pops out of the rubble. He is okay, and he pulls Juliet out too. Everyone cheers, and Juliet and Gnomeo kiss after Gnomeo notes that he thinks "this ending is much better."
Ms. Montague and Mr. Capulet come home and shriek in unison upon seeing the devastation that their gardens had become.
The end of the film shows both Red gnomes and Blue gnomes have a dance party to a cover of "Crocodile Rock" in a revamped garden. Tybalt is glued back together (but is still quite fragile, seeing as his limbs break off), and Featherstone gets his love back when Benny, whose hat was still broken off, orders her off the computer. Benny is seen in a yellow tutu dancing with the doll he met in Ms. Montague's house. Gnomeo and Juliet get married, riding off on a purple lawnmower with the word "matrignomey" enscribed in a plate on the back. A red curtain closes on the scene after the goldfish trailing after Gnomeo and Juliet says "thank you," and the title of the film is shown before the credits roll.
- James McAvoy as Gnomeo, the protagonist; counterpart to Romeo Montague.
- Emily Blunt as Juliet, the deuteragonist; counterpart to Juliet Capulet.
- Michael Caine as Lord Redbrick, the leader of the red gnomes and Juliet's overprotective widowed father; counterpart to Lord Capulet.
- Jason Statham as Tybalt, the main antagonist and counterpart to Tybalt.
- Maggie Smith as Lady Bluebury, the leader of the blue gnomes and Gnomeo's widowed mother; counterpart to Lady Montague.
- Patrick Stewart as a statue of William Shakespeare.
- Ashley Jensen as Nanette, a plastic garden frog and Juliet's best friend; a flamboyant water squirter who is loyal to Juliet; counterpart to Nurse.
- Matt Lucas as Benny, Gnomeo's impulsive and tall-hatted best friend; counterpart to Benvolio, though the fate of his hat being smashed by Tybalt is similar to Mercutio's.
- Stephen Merchant as Paris, a nerdy red gnome who was arranged to marry Juliet; counterpart to Count Paris.
- Ozzy Osbourne as Fawn, a garden deer. The secondary antagonist and Tybalt's best friend; counterpart to Peter.
- Jim Cummings as Featherstone, a lonely plastic flamingo with a thick Spanish accent; vaguely resembles Friar Laurence. His name is a reference to Donald Featherstone, the creator of the pink flamingo lawn ornament.
- Hulk Hogan as Terrafirminator V.O., an announcer who tells people to buy the Terrafirminator.
- Julie Walters as Miss Montague, the elderly owner of the Blue garden. Her face is shown briefly in the beginning of the film.
- Richard Wilson as Mr. Capulet, the owner of the Red garden. His face is briefly shown in the beginning of the film.
- Kelly Asbury as Red Goon Gnomes; counterparts to Gregory, Sampson, Anthony, and Potpan.
- Shroom, a silent mushroom and Gnomeo's friend; counterpart to Romeo's servant, Balthasar.
- The Bunnies, a group of small cement bunnies that act as servants for Lady Bluebury and others in the Blue Garden; counterparts to Abram and other miscellaneous servants of the Montagues.
- Dolly Parton as Dolly Gnome, the lawnmower race announcer.
There is no counterpart for Mercutio, as stated by James MacAvoy in an interview with NBC: "Gnomeo in this is a little bit of amalgamation between Romeo and Mercutio. We don't have that Mercutio character in this. We don't have that leader of the pack, which Romeo isn't but Gnomeo is a little bit."
Gnomeo & Juliet is directed by Kelly Asbury. The original screenplay, inspired by William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, was written by John R. Smith and Rob Sprackling. Asbury, Mark Burton, Kevin Cecil, Emily Cook, Kathy Greenberg, Andy Riley, and Steve Hamilton Shaw worked on the final screenplay. Prior to the casting of James McAvoy and Emily Blunt, the roles of Gnomeo and Juliet were to be voiced by Ewan McGregor and Kate Winslet, respectively.
The film was the original idea of Sprackling and Smith, who sold the spec script to Disney through Rocket Pictures. Initially, the film was going to be produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios but was shut down by its new chief, John Lasseter, after the Pixar acquisition. Miramax Films picked up the project and guided its production until the division closed down. Australian director Adam Elliot was approached and asked to direct the film, but he rejected the offer due to the film's incompatibility with his style, as well as his lack of experience with CGI. The film later was picked up and produced by Starz Animation in Toronto. It was released under the Touchstone Pictures banner on February 11, 2011, becoming Touchstone's first animated film since 1993's The Nightmare Before Christmas and also Touchstone's first and, so far, only film to receive a G rating from the MPAA, despite some brief mild language used. The film's worldwide premiere was at Disney's El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood on January 23, 2011.
The film was distributed in the United Kingdom and Canada by E1 Entertainment, and the film was released in 3D. Elton John and director Asbury presented 10 minutes of the film at the Cannes Film Festival.
Starz Animation Toronto (which also made 9) produced all of the animation for the film, including the stereoscopic version.
In addition, this film reunites veteran British actors Maggie Smith and Michael Caine, from the 1978 Neil Simon comedy California Suite, in the roles of Lady Bluebury and Lord Redbrick, respectively.
- Main article: Gnomeo & Juliet (soundtrack)
Gnomeo & Juliet has earned $99,967,670 in the North America and an $94,000,000 in other countries, as of October 23, 2011, for a worldwide total of $193,967,670. Gnomeo & Juliet was ultimately a sleeper hit for Disney. On its first weekend, the film had a worldwide opening of $30,680,933. However, on its second weekend - Presidents' Day weekend - it topped the worldwide box office with $29,832,466.
There are multiple puns and references to Shakespeare himself as well as his plays in the film that aren't too obvious or only appear briefly, including the following:
Romeo and Juliet
- The film being set on a street called Verona Drive - The original play being set in Verona, Italy
- Featherstone's residence being referred to as the old Laurence place - Featherstone being the counterpart to Friar Laurence
- Featherstone's quote, "A weed by any other name is still a weed." - Juliet's original quote, "...a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
- The fight between Tybalt and Gnomeo. A reference to the actual scene in the play.
- The film being set in Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire - This is Shakespeare's birthplace
- Ms. Montague and Mr. Capulet's mailboxes (2B, not 2B) - Hamlet
- Ticket to As You Like It in Featherstone's shed, dated August 21, 1986 - As You Like It
- The moving company, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern - Hamlet
- Another moving company, As U Like-It-Hauled - As You Like It
- Tempest Teapots truck - The Tempest
- The glue brand, Taming of the Glue - Taming of the Shrew
- The "Cupid's Arrow Orchid" - A Midsummer Night's Dream