Plot: Gnomeo, Juliet, and all of their garden gnome friends have just been uprooted and moved to London, but their new garden isn’t as glamorous as expected. The garden has fallen into disrepair and in need of some serious renovations, which Gnomeo and Juliet will be in charge of. This is because their parents have decided to retire and they’ve chosen the loving couple to take over as the garden’s leaders. Juliet embraces her new position and dives in headfirst, though her dedication to the garden has left Gnomeo feeling a little neglected. When he ventures out to secure a beautiful orchid for the garden, she has to come rescue him and while they’re gone, all of their fellow gnomes are kidnapped. As it turns out, this is a pattern all over London and Sherlock Gnomes is already on the case. He and Watson are joined by Gnomeo and Juliet, but can even this group solve such a head scratching mystery?
Entertainment Value: A sequel to Gnomeo and Juliet, Sherlock Gnomes was saddled with a horrible trailer, but turns out to be a solid animated feature. The movie keeps the same brisk, light tone as the original and features an impressive lineup of voice talent to bring the colorful gnomes to life. The narrative is good, with some nice detective story elements, as well as social lessons, but keeps the focus on entertainment, so it is never heavy handed. Most of the mysteries are cracked via Sherlock’s imposing skills of deduction, but that’s to be expected and plays into the story, when he is able to crack any case, but misses the obvious clues about his own behavior. The pace is brisk and the humor is consistent, so it never feels slow or drawn out in the least. The sense of humor is broad, with a lot of pratfalls and silly jokes, as well as some pop culture references and some veiled gags for the adults to appreciate. The mystery is the main thread, but a few smaller stories unfold as well, from a gnome trying to get the courage to confess his feelings to Mankini’s constant needs to twerk, so there’s enough going on to keep even younger viewers interested. I wouldn’t rank Sherlock Gnomes with the top tier of animated features, but it is a solid, well crafted movie.
This movie is populated with colorful character, so it makes sense the cast shares that trait and boasts some colorful voice actors. Johnny Depp as Sherlock, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Watson, James McAvoy as Gnomeo, and Emily Blunt as Juliet are the leads and are more than capable in those roles, of course. The chemistry between Depp and Ejiofor is quite good and adds a lot to the movie, but to me, the supporting characters tend to steal the show here. I found Ashley Jensen as the frog to be a lot of fun, with her usual clueless, but perky persona, while the gargoyles were only around for the finale, but brought a lot of humor to the movie. The cast here also includes Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Mary J. Blige, James Hong, Matt Lucas, Stephen Merchant, and even Ozzy Osbourne, so quite an impressive ensemble. The animation is terrific as well, with a lot of attention to detail, especially in the textures and smaller touches. The wear on the gnomes is really cool, from small cracks or chips to slight paint wear, just remarkable details that help it feel like a real, living world. The character designs are a lot of fun as well, while Sherlock’s thought process is shown as a black & white, surreal experience that offers a nice change of visual pace.