Not that I’m religious, but… dear God in Heaven, please save me. Just… just please.
The story, if you can call it that, looks like it’s about some gnomes going missing and the only way that they can be found is with the help of the gnome Sherlock Gnomes.
Here’s the voice talent. Starring, we have James McAvoy (ATOMIC BLONDE , VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN , X-MEN: FIRST CLASS , THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE , and upcoming films X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX  and GLASS ), Emily Blunt (MY LITTLE PONY , SICARIO , and upcoming films A QUIET PLACE  and MARY POPPINS RETURNS ), Johnny Depp (MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS , BLACK MASS , and upcoming films FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD  and RICHARD SAYS GOODBYE ), and Chiwetel Ejiorfor (DOCTOR STRANGE , LOVE ACTUALLY , and upcoming films THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND  and THE LION KING ). In support, we have Michael Caine (GOING IN STYLE  and THE LAST WITCH HUNTER ), Stephen Merchant (TABLE 19 , and upcoming films FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY  and THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB ), Matt Lucas (ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS ), Ozzy Osbourne (GHOSTBUSTERS  and AUSTIN POWERS: GOLDMEMBER ), and Maggie Smith (THE LADY IN THE VAN  and the Harry Potter films).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have John Stevenson, known for KUNG FU PANDA (2008). Penning the screenplay is Ben Zazove, known for TOOTH FAIRY 2 (2012). Composing the score is Chris Bacon, known for SNATCHED (2017). Finally, the co-editors are Prakash Patel, making his editorial debut (congrats, sir), and Mark Soloman, known for FRANKENWEENIE (2012), THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX (2008), CHICKEN RUN (2000), and the upcoming SGT. STUBBY: AN AMERICAN HERO (2018).
Overall, what do you think I’m about to say?! Just… no!
This is my honest opinion of: SHERLOCK GNOMES
Gnomeo (voiced by James McAvoy) and Juliette (voiced by Emily Blunt) have moved to a new garden in London. It’s announced that their respective parents are retiring and decide to appoint the two lovers as their successors. But then things change between them. While Juliette is taking her responsibilities seriously, Gnomeo’s attempts to maintain their relationship are thwarted by her desires to be responsible. Meanwhile, after returning from a harrowing adventure to remind Juliette of how great of a team they are, they return to all of the gnomes missing, and the only one who can help Gnomeo and Juliette figure out who did this and why is the greatest detective team, Sherlock Gnomes (voiced by Johnny Depp) and Watson (voiced by Chiwetel Ejiofor).
It’s bad. It’s really bad. I don’t like it and I think you should skip it. Having said that… I surprisingly don’t dislike it more than the first.
I guess I’ll start with the stuff that I… I don’t want to say “enjoyed,” but found to be surprisingly well-thought out. First and foremost, I think they surprisingly did a good job capturing the character of Sherlock Holmes. In nearly every adaptation of Holmes, from Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock, to Ian McKellen’s in MR. HOLMES (2015), and even Disney’s Basil of Bakerstreet from THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE (1986), each iteration has made him out to be a relatively selfish and self-absorbed type of dude. It would be way too easy for a story like this, especially considering how weak and lame the previous was, to change his character to be more silly and kid-friendly. While those moments are certainly there, he is dismissive of Watson’s contributions to their respective cases, but he’s by no means the villain of the story. He distances himself because he believe emotional entanglements cloud judgment, and if he’s going to be the world’s greatest detective, then he has to be level-headed at all times. Not to mention that he does execute non-obvious out-of-box thinking.
There’s a scene where he, Watson, and Juliet get into a fight scene with a gargoyle, and he weakly kicks it in the face. While it would appear that he kicked it as a failed attempt to fight back, this actually isn’t the case. When they’re captured and try to find a way to escape, they yell at him to say something. All he says is, “Limestone.” Why? Because he wasn’t trying to put up a legitimate fight with the gargoyle. He was literally seeing what it was made of and the gargoyle was made of limestone. I don’t know if gargoyle statues are often made of limestone, but the fact that his actions had deeper intentions makes for a surprising faithfulness to the character the movie is trying to portray.
Finally, there’s bits that show how his mind works. You know how in the Downey Jr. Sherlock films that when he tries to anticipate the future, his inner voice is talking a million miles a minute coming up with immediate scenarios for his current predicament? This does something similar and, dare I say it, artistically pleasing. His thoughts are represented with hand-drawn animation, both to figure something out and to escape from something that he doesn’t want to confront. It’s very welcomed. This movie is not treading new grounds with the character or anything, so I don’t want to make it sound like this is up there in the echelons of the best interpretations, but considering that the trailer had Sherlock practically twerking, this comes as a surprise that they got something right about the character.
Also, a lot of the worst jokes that were featured in the trailer are completely absent from the final product. Mankini (Julio Bonet) farting in a mud puddle, “no ship, Sherlock,” these jokes make no appearance in the movie and they’re not even replaced by equally bad ones, they’re just… not there. Mankini made such a prominent appearance in the trailer that I was dreading that the character would have an actual role in the story, but he doesn’t. Many sighs of relief. I mean, the humor is still non-existent, but it’s not… painful like the trailer made it out to be.
Also, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a tad interested if Watson ended up being the bad guy of the movie. I mean, I called that pretty early on, so the movie didn’t surprise me when that reveal came up. I figured that the disappearances were because he’s fed up with Sherlock’s lack of gratitude, and it’d be interesting to see Watson as a criminal mastermind and how Sherlock would react. To be fair again, I surprisingly didn’t hate that execution either. Even though it was all a ruse and the gnomes were never in direct danger from him, he made it appear like he actually outsmarted Sherlock on a case. That’s… a surprisingly interesting idea. What if Watson became a bad guy? Would Sherlock win? How would Sherlock really react? I’m sure there’s a book, or something, out there that played with this idea, but this is the first that I’ve seen it. Again, I don’t want to act like this is anything Earth-shattering, but it’s something to consider for a story in the future where Watson is antagonistic to Sherlock.
I have talked this movie up a surprising amount, but make no mistake, I don’t like this movie and there’s a few big reasons why.
First off, “we’re telling the best version of Sherlock?” Yeah, @#$% you too, movie!
There’s almost no reason for Gnomeo and Juliet to be there. Yeah, ain’t that something? The main characters are completely pointless. The filmmakers could have easily kept the Gnomeo/Juliet story its own thing, and kept Sherlock and Watson their own thing. The movies even make it kind of clear that they’re reading to us from separate stories anyway. But really think about it. Gnomes go missing and it’s up to Sherlock and Watson to figure out where they went and who took them. Literally everything involving Gnomeo and Juliet could have been written out and the story wouldn’t have missed a beat. The gnomes that go missing don’t have to be the red and blue gnomes of the previous story. They could have been just the neighborhood gnomes around Sherlock’s residence, or whatever. And it’s not like Gnomeo and Juliet’s story really adds anything other than familiarity from the first flick. Both pairs of characters (Sherlock/Watson and Gnomeo/Juliet) have the exact same issues with their respective partners and go through the exact same character archs by the end of the story with no real variation between them. All Gnomeo and Juliet really do is add redundancy that the movie already doesn’t need.
To make matters worse, Juliet is suddenly an unlikable character. There’s a rift in their relationship that literally comes out of nowhere. Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” plays for the second time in a row with these movies. The perks of having Elton John’s fingerprints on a movie (he’s an executive producer for the flick). Also, is this Hollywood’s favorite song by him? GNOMEO AND JULIET played it as well as KINGSMAN 2 (2017). And those are just the ones that I know about. Either way, I’ve heard this song to death, I am officially over it, and I don’t want to hear it again. Like… ever. Some scenes are pure fluff, subplots that tease a good payoff end up not having it, and maintains its hold as an unfunny kids animated comedy. I know I went on and on about I kind of enjoyed the portrayal of Sherlock himself, but bare in mind that it’s more like I thought the character would be butchered, and instead, got a character that was somewhat faithful, and took me by surprise. That doesn’t make up for the the rest of the movie. It’s only padding to make a painful experience less painful. So no, I don’t think anyone should see this. Not the kids, and certainly not the parents. Wait for a better quality kids movie. Just because they want to see it doesn’t mean they should. Let these gnomes bring every gnome home, while everyone else just stays home and skips this.
My honest rating for SHERLOCK GNOMES: a weak 3/5
- MIDNIGHT SUN
- BEAUTY AND THE DOGS