'Gnomeo and Juliet' Reminds Us Creepy Is GOOD for Kids

Jeanne Sager
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gnomeo & JulietThere's a buzzing in the kid world today that the Elton John-charged Shakespeare take-off Gnomeo & Juliet will soon be nestled in chubby little fingers thanks to a DVD release later this month (May 24 to be exact). Kids are crowing. Parents are kvelling. And now for the good news.

No one's shrieking, "Get that gnome away from me!" Ah, it's just what the fan of every under-appreciated bit of kitsch needs: a children's movie that turns their guilty pleasure into a mass marketer's dream. Just a few months ago, people were driving by my house and smirking at my little wizened guy with the long beard. Today they're indulging their toddlers in a pointed cap -- red for Juliet, blue for Gnomeo. Take that garden purists!

This re-casting of figures with a distinctly microscopic fanship isn't singular to Gnomeo & Juliet producers Touchstone. Parent company Disney has played this game for years.

Think Remy the rat, main character in Ratatouille. Demonized in other Disney films (I retain horror-filled memories at watching a rat sneak into the nursery in Lady and the Tramp as a child), it very suddenly became popular to send your child to bed with a rodent in the crook of the arm. And that creepy guy down the street with the pet rat felt the love.

Following the animal theme, we also have Flower, the skunk from Bambi. One of the stinkiest critters in the animal kingdom enjoys a cuddle from kids every time Disney puts out yet another edition of the '42 flick (and despite our perfectly good Platinum edition, my daughter has been begging me for the Diamond version ... ooooh, Disney, what are we going to do with that vault of yours?).

I admit my fanship of Gnomeo & Juliet is superficial, based purely on the love shown to something I dearly adore that's so often maligned. When dragged to the theater for the first showing, my daughter loved the movie, but my husband took a long nap. But as a parent, I've had to dig deeper to justify dragging the whole family out. And I fell upon a simple truth: it's a GOOD thing that our cartoons offer a light and fluffy side of some of life's darker elements. In an allegorical sense, it requires our kids to avoid snap judgments, to accept differences.

OK, maybe I'm asking too much? The truth is, I just really like gnomes.

What kids movie characters do you find kind of ... creepy?


Image via Gnomeo & Juliet

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