In the grand tradition of "there's nothing wrong with that," 'Gnomeo & Juliet' is by far the "gayest" animated movie that Disney has ever made. Accurately described by my considerably more complimentary colleague Silas Lesnick as an "ode to tackiness," the film is a subversive celebration of gay culture disguised as Technicolor family fare, an object lesson in tolerance that will probably resonate more deeply with parents than with the kids they're accompanying to the multiplex. But even though its portrayal of chintz is meant to be more playful than pejorative, 'Gnomeo & Juliet' is too clichéd and clumsily assembled to provide any insight, much less entertainment value to anyone except the rarified demographic of moviegoers that automatically finds garden gnomes charming.
Offering a necessarily more cheerful and self-aware but basically straightforward adaptation of Shakespeare's classic play, the film chronicles the burgeoning romance that evolves between Gnomeo (James McAvoy) and Juliet (Emily Blunt), the centerpiece ceramics of the gardens to two embattled English neighbors. Although one human horticulturalist is named Montague and the other Capulet, the conflict between the actual gnomes is rendered more simplistically in terms of Red and Blue clans. But like their owners, the Reds and Blues have been embroiled in a conflict too long to remember the reasons why, while the two star-crossed romantics are torn between their sense of loyalty and the growing love they have for one another.