Whilst not entirely convincing on the storyline front, the sequel to the Elton John-produced 2011 children animation Gnomeo and Juliet, Sherlock Gnomes still manages to raise a few laughs from children and adults alike, however just don’t go expecting it to be anywhere as fun or as inspired as its far superior predecessor.
Back with more high-jinx and ceramic shenanigans, the new feature tries hard to replicate the formula which made the original into such a success story, but is ultimately let down by a messy script and a rather aimless storyline which cannot quite decide which story it wants to tell. Luckily for director John Stevenson, none of this will make a bit of difference to younger audiences who are likely to take this the new film to their hearts just as they did with the first one.
We rejoin our Shakespearian inspired heroes as they make the move from their beloved countryside to London. Entrusted with the care of the new family garden, Gnomeo (voiced by James McAvoy) and Juliet (voiced by Emily Blunt) promise to take their new jobs very seriously, however an overzealous Juliet soon becomes exasperated by Gnomeo’s lack of discipline and wondering mind. Elsewhere, Baker Street’s most famous detective Sherlock Gnomes (Johnny Depp), accompanied by his trustee Watson (Chiwetel Ejiofor), are on hot pursuit of a shadowy figure linked to a spite of gnome thefts around the city’s gardens. Soon our two bickering lovers are enlisted by Sherlock and Watson in an exciting new adventure as they try to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Whilst the film benefits greatly from a soundtrack which features more Elton John music and a rather catchy number courtesy of Mary J. Blige (Blige also voices the character of Irene, a vampy former love interest of Holmes), it still remains a far cry from what it could have been had the makers opted for more universally recognisable pop songs. Perhaps one of the most jarring aspects of the film is in the inclusion of Gnomeo and Juliet in this story, as loveable as their characters are, they ultimately add very little value to the story itself. In fact the film would have benefited greatly from bringing in a whole new set of characters associated with an already well served Sherlock Holmes folklore, rather than resorting to more of the same.
On the whole, Sherlock Gnomes does what is expected from it and is elevated by a strong voice cast which also features Dexter Fletcher, Michael Caine and the always brilliant Ashley Jensen. At 1 hour and 25 minutes, the film is just the right length to keep the youngest amongst us from losing interest and is thankfully full of in-jokes to keep the rest of us amused for the duration. Not perfect by any stretch, but still manages to raise a decent amount of laughs.
Sherlock Gnomes is in cinemas from Friday 11th of May.