subscribe: Posts | Comments

Sherlock Gnomes – Movie Review

Comments Off on Sherlock Gnomes – Movie Review

Sherlock Gnomes – Movie Review

Rating: C (Average)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Paramount Pictures

Gnomeo & Juliet was a simplistic take on William Shakespeare’s classic play, complete with Elton John songs and cute sight gags. The seven year wait for a sequel seems rather unusual and Sherlock Gnomes doesn’t even feel like a genuine follow-up. The project is a mystery with the titular detective that just happens to have the star crossed lovers in it. Sherlock is the best part of this film, with Gnomeo and Juliet serving as supporting players in their own sequel. The rest is fairly standard with stale jokes and only a few successful chuckles. Even John’s songs have been dialed down from the wall-to-wall musical catalogue presented in the previous movie.

Sherlock Gnomes begins promisingly enough as it establishes the ceramic version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famed sleuth and his partner Dr. Watson. As voiced by Johnny Depp, director John Stevenson and his team of writers capture Sherlock’s obsessive personality. His legendary nemesis Moriaty is curiously portrayed as a plastic pie shop mascot, with the character animation serving as a highlight. There’s almost a classic Looney Tunes quality to the way Moriaty shows off his evil expressions. Another clever idea, animation wise, is when the movie goes inside Sherlock’s head space. These segments, designed by Neil Boyle, are beautifully done in hand-drawn animation and are a welcome treat.

The mystery element allows the central characters to go from set-piece to set-piece, although the Chinatown segment runs dangerously close to becoming culturally insensitive. Gnomeo and Juliet come along for the ride, but they’re largely unneeded. The film tries to create a conflict between the two, but it’s rather forced and a way to slap on an obvious message. There is no surprise to the mystery’s reveal, as it’s telegraphed quite heavily in the opening scenes. Due to the predictability of the story beats, it’s up to the strong animation and occasional sight gags to keep up interest, although it would have been nice to see more nods to the classic Sherlock Holmes stories. The Shakespeare-related puns were the more amusing bits in Gnomeo & Juliet.

There are other plotlines thrown into Gnomeo & Juliet, including an odd one between Gnomeo’s buddy Benny and Nanette the Frog. The movie tries its hardest to give the other gnomes something to do, right down to giving extra screen time to the mankini-wearing gnome. The weakest jokes come courtesy of that gnome shaking off his behind. One key element of Gnomeo & Juliet was how it used Elton John’s classic songs in the soundtrack, while also adding a few new tunes to his repertoire. Sherlock Gnomes throws in a few of those songs, including “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”, but his catalogue is mostly relegated to the background score. John and Bernie Taupin’s original songs written for this film are unfortunately in one ear and out the other.

The decision to name this Sherlock Gnomes, rather than the more expected Gnomeo & Juliet 2, makes a lot of sense upon watching the finished film. Sherlock takes over the movie and he is the most enjoyable aspect, right down to a solid vocal performance from Depp. Sherlock Gnomes is ultimately a harmless escapade, but also largely forgettable. The story is rather thin with little to get invested in, although there is some attempt at genuine stakes. This is primarily aimed at a child audience, with adults mostly getting amused at sight gags like a Ray Harryhausen homage and marveling at the detailed animation.


Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison