Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Movie Review: "Sherlock Gnomes" (2018)

Director: John Stevenson
Year: 2018
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 26 minutes

Sherlock Gnomes investigates a series of garden gnome thefts across London with the help of his assistant Watson, Gnomeo and Juliet.

The formula for any Rocket Studios production is as follows: take a public domain character from British literature, slap the word 'Gnome' somewhere in the title, and turn it into a relatively inexpensive children's animated feature with no less than eight Elton John songs. "Sherlock Gnomes" is directed by John Stevenson, who also directed "Kung Fu Panda." The story is written by a committee of people, though sole credit for the screenplay belongs to "Tooth Fairy 2"-scribe Ben Zazove. It features the voice talents of Johnny Depp as the titular "Sherlock Gnomes," the greatest lawn ornament detective in the world. Joining him is Chiwetel Ejiofor as his underappreciated assistant Watson, as well as James McAvoy and Emily Blunt who reprise their roles as Gnomeo and Juliet from, well, "Gnomeo & Juliet." Gnome thefts plague London. Entire gardens worth of ornamental gnomes keep getting stolen home by home, including both Gnomeo and Juliet's families. With the help of Watson, Juliet, and Gnomeo, Sherlock must locate the missing gnomes before it's too late.

The original "Gnomeo & Juliet" had a surprisingly respectable box office return, earning $193 million on an estimated $56 million dollar budget. With gains like this, it's obvious to us that a sequel was inevitable. Not that we were clamoring for more gnomes, but why, pray tell, did it take seven years to produce a follow-up if the first flick was so successful? It may be because there was a switch in production and distribution companies. The first film was produced by Touchstone, and this sequel is produced by Paramount/MGM.

Let's start with the good. The best part of "Sherlock Gnomes" is the animation. It's extremely sharp for a movie with a modest $59 million budget. Some of the animated backgrounds and the people in them look almost photorealistic. We did manage to chuckle a couple of times, but that is about it. Pretty much everything else in this movie is bad. The story is predictable and unimaginably dull. If us adults were hardpressed to find any aspect of this movie interesting, then we'd imagine most children will find it tedious to watch as well. In fact, out of all the other people in the theater watching it with us, there was only one kid there with her mom, and they left about 15-20 minutes before it ended. Minus the few times we chuckled, most of the jokes are complete duds. Jokes get delivered left and right, and our audience remained absolutely silent (as they should). Most of the story consists of Gnomeo and Juliet arguing over and over and over and over, and if we know one thing about kids, it's that they love to see and hear adults arguing. All that arguing sure makes for a pleasant viewing experience!

We weren't expecting much from "Sherlock Gnomes," so we can't say we are disappointed. However, it even failed to live up to our very, very low expectations. We have to wonder what gnome-themed movie Rocket Studios will make next. Will it be "FrankenGnome"? "The Invisible Gnome"? "Gnomlet"? "Gnomthello"? "Sweeney Todd the Demon Gnome of Fleet Street"? "A Christmas Carol but With Gnomes"? What could it be!? To be honest, we don't care now, and we won't care in the future.

My Rating: 3/10
BigJ's Rating: 3/10
IMDB's Rating: ~4.7/10
RT Rating: ~19%
Do we recommend this movie: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

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