It might sound crazy, but this weekend's animated comedy 'Gnomeo & Juliet' is based on a play by William Shakespeare. Yes, that William Shakespeare. Before you start scoffing at your screen you should know that I once visited the film's Wikipedia page, so I know what I'm talking about. Apparently this is one of those "loose adaptations" with which Hollywood is so enamored, like how 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' is 'The Odyssey' transplanted to the Depression-era South, or how the new Justin Bieber concert doc is a contemporary retelling of Dante's 'Inferno.' From what I gather, 'Gnomeo & Juliet' is a pun-tastic take on the timeless tragedy of 'Romeo and Juliet' for our lawn gnome-obsessed era, in which two decorative garden statues are engaged in a fiercely forbidden romance. I'm not sure how Disney was able to release the film with a G rating despite the fact that it inevitably concludes with a grisly double suicide (I guess they agreed to cut the scene of consensual and affectionate Gnome oral sex), but it appears as if this kid-friendly flick has successfully delivered The Bard's most famous work to a new generation of moviegoers.
Of course, 'Gnomeo & Juliet' isn't the first time that filmmakers have seen fit to experimentally adapt Shakespeare's plays for modern audiences -- you don't just wake up one day with the Earth-shaking epiphany that Jason Statham was born to voice a two-foot tall porcelain Tybalt, this sort of creative evolution requires time and precedent. 'Gnomeo & Juliet' is just the latest example of the cinema's long and occasionally proud tradition of fiddling with Shakespeare's plays to the brink of recognition. Here are the five films that most dramatically repositioned The Bard's works -- none of these are particularly secretive about their inspiration, but all prove that Shakespeare's bounds exceed even Travelocity's reach.