‘Sherlock Gnomes’ (2018, U)

Is ‘Sherlock Gnomes’ an awesome animation, or a backyard-based blunder?

After 2011’s ‘Gnomeo and Juliet’, the couple (voiced by James McAvoy and Emily Blunt) are about to take over from their parents’ as leaders of the garden, when disaster strikes and their friends and family in the garden all disappear! Realising their case is part of a bigger mystery, the two join forces with the famous detective Sherlock Gnomes (voiced by Johnny Depp) and his assistant, Dr. Watson (Chiwetel Ejiofor). But will the team be able to locate their friends and bring their kidnapper to justice before it’s too late?

I think it’s safe to say that ‘Sherlock Gnomes’ is the wackiest example of an adaption of Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic character, for obvious reasons. Despite this, he sticks pretty clearly to the classic portrayal of Sherlock Holmes as a cold, logical and sometimes impersonal detective, though whereas most adaptions have tried to give the character some form of redemption arc (say, for instance, the outstanding BBC series, “Sherlock”), Sherlock Gnomes only becomes slightly less irritable after he’s been entirely proved wrong — perhaps not a great role-model for the young audience this film is aimed at, especially seen as he receives high praise from other characters when he’s at peak-arrogance and cold-hearted ness. He’s voiced well by Johnny Depp, as are the other characters by the star-studded cast.

That’s the one thing that always surprises me about these films — the cast! There’s big Hollywood stars such as James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Michael Caine and Chiwetel Ejifor, British national treasures like Maggie Smith and Julie Walters and even Ozzy Osbourne thrown into the mix! How all these stars are pulled together for what is, essentially, a generic animated kids film, I do not know.

As a children’s film, then, it’s bound to have some humour which in some places is funny and in others fall flat. I liked some of the nods and references to the original stories, but that’s going to go over the heads of all the target audience. Most of the humour is a little crude, and I’ve seen some parents online saying it’s too rude for their kids etc. Personally, it’s rated U, so if the powers-that-be at the BBFC have said it’s acceptable for all, then I agree.

Overall, ‘Sherlock Gnomes’ is a fun animation for the whole family to see. The titular character can be rather irritating and some of the jokes fall flat, but I think it’s deserving of a six-out-of-ten.


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