Disney’s Gnomeo and Juliet is a darling movie. It will be enjoyed most by children and by people with a highly developed appreciation of whimsy, but almost anyone can find pleasure in the adorable depiction of a simple life.

As the title suggests, the plot is inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet; the fantasy is that it is played out by inanimate garden objects that come to life when humans aren’t looking. The main characters are the ubiquitous gnomes, but the supporting cast of rabbits, a deer, a mushroom and a frog add to the fun. From the first time you see the rabbits, you anxiously await their return, and you aren’t disappointed. In a world in which everything is precious-cute, the rabbits reign as the most delightful.

The feud is between “the Blues” and “the Reds.” The Blues are gnomes with blue caps and clothes; the Reds live in the garden next door and sport mainly red in their garments and hats. Gnomeo is a Blue; Juliet is a Red. Their love is forbidden. They meet when they each don disguises and leave their respective gardens. Juliet is trying to pluck a special flower with a heart-shaped center to prove she is not delicate. Gnomeo is trying to prove his gnome-hood following a disastrous lawn-mower race. In the traditional cute-meet style of romantic comedies, they both grab the flower simultaneously and fight for it. With tender eye-gazing and matching background music, the falling-in-love scene is as beautiful as that in any good romance.

The famous balcony scene is done instead from Juliet’s pedestal…the mock death is a broken teapot that is mistaken for Gnomeo. The main difference in story-lines is announced in a conversation Gnomeo has with a statue of Shakespeare.

The movie is full of clever puns, inside jokes and sly references. They are well-done and not overdone. Great tribute is paid to Elton John. It is all done with respectful affection that earns smiles and laughs.

The voice of Dolly Parton as a sexy gnomette is instantly recognizable, and many audience members will also know Michael Caine as soon as he speaks as Lord Redbrick. James McAvoy is Gnomeo and Emily Blunt is Juliet. The always-captivating accent of Maggie Smith adds a surprising dimension of warm aristocracy to the part of Gnomeo’s mother, Lady Blueberry. Patrick Stewart is the voice of Bill Shakespeare and Julie Walters portrays Miss Montague. It is directed by Kelly Asbury; written by Mark Burton, Kevin Cecil, Emily Cook, Kathy Greenberg, Andy Riley and Steve Hamilton Shaw; and produced by John R. Smith.

The 3-D effects add to the charm of the movie. It is probably not a coincidence that it opens just before Valentine’s Day. Extra points go to boyfriends and husbands who recognize that although it looks as if it might be a children’s movie, it is, above all, a love story.