Sherlock Gnomes a Generic Sequel to More Clever Forerunner

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Sherlock Gnomes

SHERLOCK GNOMES -- the sequel nobody asked for after GNOMEO & JULIET -- finds the Capulet and Montague gnomes being transported from Stratford on Avon to London, just in time to become the victims of an unnoticed crime spree of kidnapped garden gnomes. Unnoticed by all except one gnome, that is -- Sherlock Gnomes, sworn defender of all the garden gnomes of London.

Oh, and Watson.

Sherlock (JOHNNY DEPP) is in a slump in the days following the defeat of his arch-enemy, Moriarty (JAMIE DEMETRIOU) -- the mascot of Moriarty's Pies. As in "Moriarty's (s)Pies are everywhere." But when whole gardens of gnomes begin to go missing, Sherlock believes his enemy has returned, and sets out with his beleaguered and mistreated partner, Watson (CHIWETEL EJIOFOR) to solve the clues, left at each scene with Moriarty's traditional playing card motif.

Sidewise to this, Gnomeo (JAMES MCAVOY) and Juliet (EMILY BLUNT) are having a lovers' quarrel, which basically parallels the fractured partnership of Sherlock and Watson -- that one is unappreciated and placed secondary to other things. They are both out fighting when their garden is the latest crime scene, and end up forcing themselves onto the detectives as they begin to search all of London for the clues that will lead them to the missing gnomes -- before Moriarty can crush them to bits!

The film has some interesting throwaways, a few of which are noticeable but out of place, such as the label on one of Sherlock's disguises. It's nice to reference the work of Ray Harryhausen, but it would have made more sense if this were a stop-motion film rather than a computer animated one. But other asides were more appreciated, such as Sherlock's former love interest, Irene (Adler, no doubt, voiced by MARY J. BLIGE), and Moriarty's post-mortem revelation being done on a panoply of screens (a callback to SHERLOCK).

SHERLOCK GNOMES carries the conceit forward that all our lawn ornaments come to life when nobody is looking -- like TOY STORY. Only it takes things a step further. Now any kind of sculpture is alive, from garden gnomes to dolls, from stone gargoyles to Maneki Nekos. Everywhere you look, something is alive -- but of course, if you're looking, it's immobilized by whatever magic rules this infusion of life. (The Chinese souvenir shop at least raises the notion that things are mass-produced. What happens if Gnomeo meets another Gnomeo? What if Juliet likes him more?)

By the time it's all over, Juliet ses her own flaws mirrored in Sherlock, and vice versa, and everyone comes to realize you shouldn't put your partners in the shadow of other priorities. Everyone's happy, everyone's had their fill of Elton John music, and everyone is left wondering...

...they're not gonna do a third one, are they?

3.5 / 5.0