REVIEW: Gnomeo & Juliet, (U), (80 mins), new on DVD.

Poor old Shakespeare certainly missed a trick when he didn’t make Romeo and Juliet love-lost garden gnomes.

And how daft that he set his tale in Verona. Didn’t he see that it would have been far more entertaining in a couple of gnome-filled gardens in Verona Road?

A surreal leap of the imagination is required somewhere along the line, but it’s a leap worth making.

Completing the transformation is a soundtrack by Elton John and a starry cast of British talent. The end result is 80 minutes of high-class fun, stylishly delivered, witty and delightfully inventive.

The star-crossed lovers - voiced by James McAvoy and Emily Blunt in this animated adventure - are, in the Romeo & Juliet tradition, from warring families, this time the occupants of adjoining gardens.

And just as in the original, their love, once discovered, is seen as the ultimate betrayal of all that their families have been fighting for.

But with Sir Elton crooning in the background, with a couple of cracking new songs just for the occasion, you know nothing is ever going to get terribly nasty.

When poor Gnomeo gets abducted by a slavering dog, things get a little bit fraught, but you just know he’s going to get back in time when all hell threatens to break loose in the shape of (Shakespeare, look away now) a vicious lawnmower.

But it’s not long before we’re heading towards the happy ending we’ve been looking forward to all along. Forget the dagger and the poison which cut short young love in the original. The gnomes come up with a far more grown-up approach to solving life’s problems.

It’s difficult to imagine that this tale is ever going to claw its way into the ranks of the classics, but there’s a lot to like about it - not least Ozzy Osbourne as the world’s least likely Fawn.

Phil Hewitt