For a movie that featured a “no-shit-Sherlock” joke in the trailer, I was not expecting a lot from “Sherlock Gnomes.” However, “Sherlock Gnomes” does more than it can to actively besmear the legacy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels.
“Sherlock Gnomes” is the sequel to the 2011 “Gnomeo and Juliet,” which has Gnomeo and Juliet join up with Sherlock Gnomes and his partner Watson to uncover why gnomes have been disappearing all over London. What soon follows is a generic whodunit with no real sense of mystery in the framework of a bland “Toy Story” knock-off.
The film starts with a gnome presenting a book on the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes but is soon derailed when other gnomes interrupt him with gnome parody pun names like Indiana Gnomes. Just like how roller coasters have a “This Tall To Ride” requirement, “Sherlock Gnomes” gets you ready for the garbage heap of a film right out the gate.
The character of Sherlock Gnomes, played by Johnny Depp, is clearly drawn from the modern reimagining of Holmes as seen in Guy Richie’s “Sherlock Holmes” and BBC’s “Sherlock.” Instead of the classic stoic crime solver, Sherlock Gnomes is engaging in physical combat and being an ass to those around him. Occasionally Gnomes will make a random deduction out of thin air, in what felt like the screenwriter just read the “Great Illustrated Classics of Sherlock Holmes” and felt like they had to add a least a small amount of what Sherlock Holmes is known for in between shots of a gnome’s ass.
The film falls apart here, as the movie begins aping Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters and stories but not actually presenting a solid mystery. Multiple times, the movie references characters or situations from Holmes stories, but the mystery it presents is vapid at best. It tries to surprise with double and triple crosses, but fails to lay out a mystery that actually makes sense. Yes, it is a film about gnomes for children, but at least some effort could have been made to make something less groan-worthy when it draws from some of the greatest mystery novels of all time.
Disregarding the boring plot, the film cannot even get it’s universe’s fiction right in a way that makes sense. The characters react to humans like the toys in “Toy Story,” freezing when they are present but move around freely when they are out of sight. But unlike Toy Story, where it is a secret that the toys are alive, people seem to know the existence of Gnomes and urge him to solve the mystery on television.
The humor makes recent Adam Sandler movies feel like “Dr. Strangelove.” Steven Merchant has a couple of funny lines, but the majority of the humor is cheap gags and double entendres aimed at parents who are probably just playing Fortnite on their phones as their kids gorge themselves on Sour Patch Kids. The rest of the cast is fine; none of them stand out in any meaningful way.
For a movie that is a sequel of a seven year old movie clearly made to profit off parents needing to have a different movie in rotation besides “Cars,” “Sherlock Gnomes” manages to be an insufferable work that will be soon relegated to a BluRay/DVD combo pack found in the backseat of your aunt’s Honda Odyssey. With a multitude of stellar animated and children’s movies coming out, there is no need to waste your time with this one.
Even with all the hate, I would rather watch “Sherlock Gnomes” a thousand times before having to rewatch the fourth season of Sherlock. What a mistake that was.
Bailey MeCey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @bmecey.