This animated sequel would never have seen the light of day if it weren’t for Elton John, who executive produced 2011’s “Gnomeo & Juliet.” John and his husband, David Furnish, continue to be amused by the ‘punny’ idea of garden gnomes coming to life.
“The first film was a love story about how gnomes from two battling gardens fell in love,” he explains. “This is new one is an adventure that takes place after they married and moved to London from Stratford-Upon-Avon.”
It seems that all the lawn ornaments in London are being stolen: proper gnomes like Lord Redbrick (voiced by Michael Caine), Lady Blueberry (voiced by Maggie Smith) and Mrs. Montague (voiced by Julie Walters), along with Fawn (voiced by Ozzy Osbourne).
So the legendary sleuth Sherlock Gnomes (voiced by Johnny Depp) and his long-suffering assistant Watson (voiced by Chiwetel Ejiofor) show up to help Gnomeo (voiced by James McAvoy) and Juliet (voiced by Emily Blunt) search - before they’re smashed to smithereens.
Looking for clues, Sherlock visits a doll museum, where he runs into his ex, a self-obsessed Victorian doll named Irene Adler (voiced by Mary J. Blige), who launches into a song-and-dance number, “Stronger Than I Ever Was,” by Elton John and his longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin.
Utilizing deductive logic, Holmes views his perennial adversary, maniacal Moriarty (voiced by Jamie Demetriou), disguised as the little, yellow, pie-boy mascot of Goobarb Pies, as a prime suspect.
Elton John can be glimpsed in a cameo as a pink, piano-playing gnome. His sound-track contributions also include “Empty Garden,” “Philadelphia Freedom,” “I’m Still Standing” and “Saturday Night’s Alright (for Fighting).”
Working from Ben Zaslove’s bare-bones screenplay, it’s helmed by John Stevenson (“Kung Fu Panda”) who pads it out as much as possible.
Except for some imaginative black-and-white sequences, showing what Sherlock is thinking, the animation is not remarkable.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Sherlock Gnomes” is a flimsy, forgettable 4. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle must be spinning in his grave.